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An open letter to the person who abandoned a pet hamster in the ditch

Dear Sir, Madam, Child or Otherwise Heartless Being:

Rendition of the abandoned hamster/Ryn Gargulinski
Rendition of the abandoned hamster/Ryn Gargulinski

I met your pet hamster Monday evening while I was walking my dogs through the alleyway near a ditch.

We were incredibly surprised to see a small, defenseless domesticated pet cruelly abandoned in the wild and, although I am not too particularly fond of hamsters, we found this one quite cute.

She was a black and white hooded with sweet dark eyes.

She was also very tame and ambled halfway up to us without any qualms.

We were wondering why you would dump your hamster in the ditch rather than try to find her a suitable new home. The Humane Society of Southern Arizona takes in small animals and hamsters make great classroom or young people pets.

While it was quite thoughtful of you to leave a small mound of colorful foodstuff mixed with peanuts near the edge of the ditch, that meager pile of provisions would not surely not serve as the key to her survival.

In fact, a domesticated hamster is not going to survive at all in the wild. Although Tucson is done with its 100-plus temperatures for the year, you did happen to abandon your hamster on the eve of a massive cold front and storm warning.

Cold, dank rain does not do well for small rodents, which are already prone to respiratory infections.

Coyotes, pack rats and other wildlife may also not look too kindly on your abandoned hamster. After all, she had that soft, clean white coat which would make the ditch’s grungy denizens a little wary, if not jealous.

Starvation would come too, as the colorful foodstuff mixed with peanuts would not last too long and may be eaten by others. And I didn’t note any water bottle attached to the nearby mesquite trees.

But don’t be alarmed.

Although you surely do not care about this hamster, or you would not have heartlessly dumped her in a ditch, please know she is no longer in danger.

As an animal lover, I could not bear to leave the hamster out alone in the cold, and I was planning to go get a shoebox and take her home.

Before I could resume our walk, however, my dog Phoebe suddenly lunged and dragged me halfway down the ditch to get at your hamster.

Rendition of Phoebe's dog chomp/Ryn Gargulinski
Rendition of Phoebe's dog chomp/Ryn Gargulinski

A single dog chomp through the middle murdered your hamster in one fell swoop.

The ditch drag also banged up my knee, which I am currently elevating and putting on ice to alleviate the pain and swelling. I am walking with a cane.

At least your hamster did not die alone.

I covered her with a blanket of scratchy dried leaves once Phoebe obeyed and let your hamster fall from her jaws.

Thus your hamster will no longer suffer.

I hope that makes it easier for you to sleep at night.


Ryn, Sawyer and Phoebe


wb-logolilWhat do you think?

Have you ever had to get rid of a pet? What did you do?

Have you ever saved one that was heartlessly abandoned?

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Make fun stuff out of gross turkey debris

We all know recycling is so in vogue that we are basically outcasts if we don’t do it.

You can wow your friends, neighbors, and even yourself when you go above and beyond traditional recycling and find uses for those gross turkey parts and disgusting by-products that most folks regard as junk.

Details of the RYNmobile/Art and photo Ryn Gargulinski
Details of the RYNmobile/Art and photo Ryn Gargulinski

If you’ve already disposed of these turkey parts this Thanksgiving, simply keep the helpful hints in mind for next year or any time you cook a large and slimy bird.

Turkey bone artwork

Anyone who wants to use turn those turkey bones into art and doesn’t mind getting fully grossed out in the process can engage in this enthralling project.

Get all the meat off the bones by boiling them for several hours on a heat high enough to automatically turn on your stove vents and melt the nearby plastic salt and pepper shakers.

Once the boiling is done, drill small holes in the bones so the marrow can escape and your artwork doesn’t rot. Wear protective goggles as the marrow stuff likes to spurt out of the drilled bone and invariably hit you in the face.

Proceed to further soak the bones for a day or so in hydrogen peroxide in a plastic container you don’t care if you wreck.

Allow the bones to dry out after a day of peroxide, cussing when you leave them too low on the table and Phoebe gets a hold of one.

Paint as desired, hook up with wire and hang in a doorway where visitors will inevitably knock into them with their heads.

My turkey bone RynMobile is a joy to behold. Please note, the turkey bone Ryn-MObile, hanging artwork, shan’t be confused with the Ryn-mobILE, or my decorated car.

Soaking the bones/Ryn Gargulinski
Soaking the bones/Ryn Gargulinski

Congealed turkey grease snow globes

Don’t clog up your sink or yard with congealed turkey grease. Turn them into snow globes. Take a clean jar and fill it with the grease, adding a few little plastic army guys or other small figurines for effect. Chuck in a small handful of glitter and shake.

Voila – fun for the whole family.

Gizzard and bone shard maracas

Nobody eats the gizzards, and you may be at a total loss with what to do with those bony and sickly turkey necks. Dry out the stuff by leaving it outside in the sunshine. Once the gizzards and neck parts are rock hard, smash them with something like a hammer or the base of an uncomfortably hard shoe.

Throw the little hardened pieces into an empty coconut shell you recycled from your last Hawaiian luau and you’ve got yourself an instant instrument.


Turkey bone RYNmobile/Art and photo Ryn Gargulinski

What do you think?

Have you used other food parts to make instruments, snow globes or art? Please explain.

Do you realize I’m kidding about playing with congealed grease?

What fun stuff could you do with duck feet or that thing that dangles on the side of a chicken’s beak?

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Meet a cool Tucsonan: One crafty dog walker

Abigail on her evening dog ride/Ryn Gargulinski

Anyone who has ever tried walking more than one dog – or even one stubborn dog – knows the task can be quite a challenge.

One Tucsonan was innovative enough to figure out how to walk six – without even breaking a sweat.

Crafty Abigail hooked up a tricycle, complete with a hook that accommodates six separate leashes, when summer treks got too hot to keep up with the half-dozen dogs.

Abigail was wary of the bicycle thing, as dogs like to dart away at the first glimpse of a rabbit or in front of the tires as their mood permits. Others, like Sawyer, will run along fine beside a bicycle until he suddenly decides he is going to sit – while I’m still pedaling.

But Abigail’s trike has been heavenly. Or as heavenly as it can be, as six dogs are quite a handful. They sometimes still get jumbled, but no one, namely Abigail, gets pulled down a gully or hauled off into the wash.

The biter/Ryn Gargulinski
The biter/Ryn Gargulinski

Two of the pooches belong to her daughters. One is looking for a new home.

“He’s spoiled,” she said of the dog that is up for adoption, a cute black and white little thing. “And he bites people. I gave him to my daughters and he bit four people in one week. They gave him back.”

Abigail said the puffy little doggie especially has a vendetta for men. The men who get bit, however, usually try to act manly and tough, she said, but there were a few who whined about it.

“The dog needs a home with someone who has no job and no life and can devote every second to him,” Abigail said.

In the meantime, the sextet runs along in glee into the Rillito River sunset.

Abigail and crew ride off Into the sunset/Ryn Gargulinski
Abigail and crew ride off Into the sunset/Ryn Gargulinski
Dog jumble and Sawyer's snout at front of the trike/Ryn Gargulinski
Dog jumble and Sawyer's snout at front of the trike/Ryn Gargulinski

What do you think?

Do you know anyone who has hooked up innovative things to suit their needs?

Have you ever tried bicycling with a dog? What about roller blading or skate boarding?

Have you seen others try it and fall on their noggins?

Enjoy the ride/Ryn Gargulinski
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Some neighbors (and their dogs) deserve a swift kick in the pants

We sometimes like to blame our neighbors for all the woes of the world – from the lack of parking to the garbage that blows in our yard. And sometimes they deserve it.

Proof Sawyer is sweet and doesn't deserve to be attacked/Ryn Gargulinski
Proof Sawyer is sweet and doesn't deserve to be attacked/Ryn Gargulinski

After all, it is my neighbors’ fault my arm still hurts.

Sawyer, Phoebe, my beau and I were returning from our evening riverbed dog romp. The dogs were leashed and sauntering nicely.

The narrow path back to the house is crammed between a ditch full of thorny trees and a solid brick wall.

We were on that crammed path when we encountered the neighbors and their two dogs, whom we shall call Dumbo and Bimbo.

Dumbo and Bimbo, who are no small puppies, have a long history of distaste for Sawyer and Phoebe. The feeling is mutual and the dogs like to lunge at each other when we pass across the street. Everyone is leashed and the end result is lots of noise but no injuries.

But this time Dumbo and Bimbo were not on their leashes. And I ended up getting bit.

We rounded the corner to find the neighbors and their horror hounds, with enough time for the neighbors to leash up Dumbo and Bimbo. But they didn’t. They just stood there and watched as Dumbo approached us, acting dumb enough to merit his nickname, and set off a growl fest.

Bimbo, whose head is the size of a basketball and jaws are as wide as Montana, soon joined the fray.

Proof Phoebe is sweet and doesn't deserve to be attacked/Ryn Gargulinski
Proof Phoebe is sweet and doesn't deserve to be attacked/Ryn Gargulinski

Sawyer, Phoebe, my boyfriend and I had initially moved towards the brick wall to let the foursome pass. Now were cornered against it by Dumbo and Bimbo while their owners stood back in the distance. Please note the dog dad was no small puppy, either, and could have at least attempted to restrain at least one of the hounds.

Dumbo was trying to sneak up on Sawyer’s hind end while Bimbo was going for Sawyer’s throat. Sawyer and Phoebe were still leashed and couldn’t really maneuver.

Yet Sawyer still attempted to defend himself while big, bad, barking machine Phoebe hid.

My dog mom instinct kicked in and I did I really dumb thing.

I stuck my arm out to push Bimbo away and ended up with my arm clamped in a dog jaw.

Once Sawyer realized it was my arm in his mouth, he let go immediately. But not before a nice pain set in. The pain was accompanied by a fine red mark that was only later alleviated by a pouch of frozen vegetables.

Dumbo and Bimbo were eventually restrained and led away by the neighbors, who didn’t even bother to apologize.

And I’ll bet it’s their garbage that blew in my yard.

Eager for input – please take the poll.

[tnipoll]wb-logolilWhat do you think?

Do you have inconsiderate neighbors? What’s the worse thing they’ve done?

Have you been accosted by their dogs, cats, blowing garbage or children?

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The case of the duct taped coyote – Does anyone care about coyote abuse?

Tucsonan Joe Gardner was on one of his favorite day trips to Lochiel, about 100 miles southeast of Tucson, where the air is clean and the land pristine – usually.

Except when he finds a dead duct taped coyote.

Duct taped coyote/submitted photo
Duct taped coyote/submitted photo

During his trek about two weeks ago, the 62-year-old who grew up in the Lochiel area noted buzzards circling about and followed their feast to find a mutilated carcass.

The coyote was definitely dead, with a hole in his underside where something had chewed out his entrails. He had not been skinned, but the two front legs and two back legs had been secured with tape, leaving him defenseless, provided he had still been alive when taped.

“I was surprised and puzzled and wondered about mutilation stories I had heard in the past,” Gardner said, “but those involved livestock, not wild animals. I also wondered if it was some kind of sick message for human smugglers, who are also referred to as coyotes.”

He vaguely recalled stories of livestock’s organs and genitalia being removed with “precision-appearing incisions” some time back in Cochise County. Perhaps Jack the Ripper of the cattle world.

Yet he had never seen such abuse of coyotes.

Lochiel school house/submitted photo
Lochiel school house/submitted photo

“I have not an inkling as to who or why would bind a coyote and leave it out for the buzzards,” he said. “I was born and raised in the area, and as a matter of fact, this was right in front of the one room school I attended when I was a kid. I know just about everyone who lives in the area, and can’t imagine any locals doing this, as they live in the area because they love and respect the land.”

Nothing respectful about a duct taped coyote.

Arizona’s animal cruelty felony law, ARS 13-2910, slaps a felony on anyone that “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly inflicts unnecessary physical injury to any animal.”

Awesome law. But it may not apply in the case of the duct taped coyote.

“Law enforcement would have to successfully allege that it was cruelty,” explained Marsh Myers, spokesman for the Animal Cruelty Taskforce of Southern Arizona. “Since coyotes can be legally hunted, an investigation would have to rule this possibility out. Sometimes the animal is hunted and then the carcass is just left to rot. It’s a sloppy practice but it happens all the time.”

In that case, it’s OK.

Many hunters are respectful – even reverent – about nature and engage in the sport for much more than just the kill. But there are always the idiots.

In another coyote case earlier this year, six mutilated carcasses were found dumped in a creek near an Oklahoma high school.

The critters had been skinned, with their front legs chopped off at the knees and their remains unceremoniously hurled where teens could easily find them.

The animals were originally thought to be dogs and all hell broke loose. Necropsies revealed they had been a half dozen coyotes. Hell kind of subsided.

While Oklahoma, like Arizona, does have animal cruelty laws with severe penalties, it would probably not apply if the animals were being hunted for their fur.

Authorities in Ohio were going nuts in 2007 trying to find the sicko who apparently skinned and boiled a dog – while it was still alive.

The animal, identified by a vet as a chow/pit bull mix, was fully skinned except for fur left on its paws, had cuts on its legs and neck and had wire wound around one of the back legs.

Someone finally did come forward to confess – that the animal was not a dog at all but simply a coyote he hunted but didn’t dispose of properly.

Even though the vet had initially been wrong about the animal’s identification, calling it a dog, the doc was not wrong about the animal having been still alive when it was boiled and skinned.

No matter. It was just a coyote.

The case was immediately closed and all pending criminal charges promptly dropped.



Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who loves coyotes as much as she loves wolves but not as much as she loves her dogs. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at E-mail


What do you think?

Is there a way to better enforce – or even prove – the animal cruelty felony law?

Can anything be done to better protect hunted wildlife from undue abuse?