Why Chickens are Good for the (Local) Economy

(The owner has 21 hens). The best cafe for miles around with fantastic food, it’s a community meeting place, hang out and unique place to shop. 

The Peach BasketTEXAS HILL COUNTRY GEMS: THE PEACH BASKET, FREDERICKSBURG, TEXAS (They sell organic chicken feed because many of their shoppers have chickens at home). It’s a local, indie, one stop grocery store with excellent customer service.

When looking for a place to live or a store to carry Species Spectrum, I’m finding out that people who like chickens are good for local business. I wonder if it’s a useful question for market research because it seems that the more I think of stores that carry my line, I’m pretty sure just about all of them like chickens!

There’s a conspiracy against chickens in some first world HOA’s. While innocent single female chickens are disenfranchised, in other places, chickens are the heart of local business. Urban farming is taking root. Have you seen Modern Farmer Magazine?

chickens-belong             Get your chickens belong sticker here! 





On a recent trip to Texas, I handed out my ‘Chickens Belong’ sticker spreading the gospel of the HOA determined to exclude chickens from the semi-rural community. People laugh because it seems ridiculous that this non-threatening bird is at the center of a community lawsuit.

People have noticed the ‘Chickens Belong’ sticker on my car and the only response I’ve gotten is, “Right On!”.

Hating chickens just doesn’t feel healthy. Liking chickens is good for the soul and the economy. Look at creative business around you. You will see that where independent, socially conscious, local businesses thrive that chickens are in the background.

Caring about chickens says something about you. It says you use re-usaeable grocery bags. You are free range. You probably buy kale in large quantities. You probably have at least one adopted shelter pet. You read. You might even drive a Subaru (with bumper stickers). You like being outside. You go to the farmers market. You sign petitions for animals. You have a sense of humor. You like buying independent  products and will buy Species Spectrum greeting cards over mainstream brands. Thank You.

Chickens build more than community. They are a sign of a socially conscious thinking and innovative, thriving small business. These people want to make a difference. That’s where I want to be. Thanks to these stores and others for carrying Species Spectrum and putting us on the map in Texas!

Interested in having chickens? Learn more  about them here.
Just wondering, have you considered a rescue chicken?

– Jes McKay Gilmore, speciesspectrum.com

On Getting A Dog (Not) “Just Like the Last One”

getting a dog                       Lilly, enjoys car rides in the front seat on a sleeping bag.
                       Please note: Any resemblance to ‘Andy Warhol Art’ is purely tragic. 
                       If you haven’t visited speciesspectrum.com, please check us out! 

As a species we have a desire for familiarity and sameness. It’s a survival mechanism. It’s fine when that familiarity means ordering fast food on another continent or a trip down memory lane when we hear a certain song. However, it’s a different thing when we expect our future pets to be clones of our last pets (Unless cloning is your thing).

Recently I overheard a conversation of two women discussing a friend’s search for another dog. It was obvious the friend’s beloved dog had gone to what pet lovers term ‘Rainbow Bridge’. One said to the other, “They want to get a dog just like the last dog so they’re going to the same breeder and hopefully…” Just then the conversation drifted out of my ears’ reach.

“Get one just like the last one”; That is the phrase that stuck with me. We don’t say this about ex-lovers, just our dogs. In fact we hope that next fish is the total opposite of that idiot we previously dated. We love the familiar (and the new, once it is familiar). We are creatures of habit. In my cuisine experience, this means I almost always order enchiladas when I get Mexican food. When it comes to dogs, some people get hooked on a certain breed of dog. You know the parents that ‘Have always had Springer Spaniels’. We put bumper stickers on our cars (especially Subaru owners), that tell the world our type of dog is the best. It’s a Eureka! moment. “Chihuahuas Rule”. “Border Collies Rule”. “Labrador’s Rule”. Okay, I love Australian Cattle Dogs and English Mastiffs. There I said it. We also now praise mutts, with” They’re one of a kind” sentiments. This is the truth of every dog, mutts and ‘pure-breds’ alike.

I ended up with a very cool (neurotic) eighty pound mutt (healthy as ever with his mutt genetics) and pushing age twelve this year. He has never been anything like the bomb proof golden retriever I had before.

Once while walking dogs at my local Humane Society, a woman approached me through the fence facing the parking lot. She asked me, “Do you have any small, male dogs available or adoption?”. She then held up her small Sihi-tzu girl dog. “I’m looking for a male dog to breed with her so she can have puppies just like her”. The woman went on, “I want her to have puppies because I would be devastated without ‘Missy'” (random dog name).

I kindly explained to the woman how our shelter dogs were neutered. She genuinely thought adopting a male dog to breed with her dog was the solution to her concerns. I waxed on about dog breeding being very expensive (when done right) and to maybe consider adopting another dog with similar breed heritage as her beloved ‘Missy’.

Some of us really are ‘big dog people’, or ‘labrador people’ or some version of ‘small dog people’. Aside from Labradors and maybe Golden Retrievers, it’s very difficult and dare I say impossible to get another dog just like our last dog. Part of the reason for the popularity of Labradors and Goldens is that predictable, happy-go-lucky-fetch-retrieve-lovable-family-dog thing they have nailed into their DNA. Yet, even all Labradors aren’t the same. Some will go through guide dog training and just not have the personality to be a service dog. They might still, however, make an excellent therapy dog.

Dog genetics are the most manipulated in the world. The percentage of difference that separates the hundreds of dog breeds in the world are minuscule.

I write this on an informal leadership training spree with my boyfriend’s mother’s recently adopted Chihuahua. At first I wished she’d chosen an older, easy-going A-list, golden retriever from a rescue (you know, like my last dog). Instead she brought home a ten-year old Chihuahua. This week Lilly has gone almost everywhere with me. I’m not used to working with such a tiny dog and more accustomed to a bigger, burly dog on the other end of the leash. Yet, in a week’s time, I’ve come to enjoy training and hanging out with a Chihuahua–a breed that stumbled into my life.

Our desire to “Get another dog just like the last dog” reminds me of a book I read, “Stumbling on Happiness” by Daniel Gilbert. Gilbert writes about why we are not the best predictors of our own happiness. This is why we may THINK we want another dog just like the last dog, even if a different dog will be perfect for us. But like friends, no friend is exactly the same as another friend, yet they are both great friends. It is the same with dogs, even if they are the same breed. We may have many dogs in our lifetime and some we will describe years later as ‘the best dog ever’. We assume we won’t feel so sad if we can go get another dog just like the last one. In making this assumption, we might miss out on the next best dog looking for us. Keep your mind and heart open to who your next dog or pet may be. Please consider a shelter or rescue dog and good luck in finding your new best friend!

Jes McKay Gilmore

– speciesspectrum.com

Speciesspectrum.com publishes modern greeting cards for every occasion. Every Species Spectrum design begins with a photograph of a rescue animal. We photograph both wild and domestic animals in shelters, sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers that would otherwise not be seen by the public.
Our goal is to provoke awareness and thus increased responsibility toward how we view animals in society and the wild. Giving back to small organizations helping animals is the beginning. Please shop our site. Thank you for sharing Species Spectrum greeting cards.


Dispelling the Myth of Shelter Dogs – We are Adoptable!

Can you adopt us?

Can you adopt us? Wilbur & Ranger Contact APA Las Cruces, NM

Wilbur Chihuahua & Ranger Chiweenie are currently looking for a home! Right now, today! They are excellent examples of shelter dogs with everything going for them, except they have no family to call their own. 

Last week I met up with APA (ACTion Program for Animals) in Las Cruces, New Mexico. All of the dogs you see are looking for their forever home. Shelter Dogs Available for Adoption, Las Cruces, NM

We often hear the numbers associated with animal rescue. What is left untold are the many stories of the animals passing through animal shelters. People are at times surprised to hear that the wonderful dog they just met was once on his last day at the animal shelter. Many are in fact truly adoptable, still smiling, playing and loving life.

Shawna has been looking for a home since May.

ADOPT NEW MEXICO BROWN DOG!!! Shawna has been looking for a home since May, 2013. CLICK HERE 

Shelter dogs are NOT always riddled with dysfunction. Sometimes they need a little guidance just like any dog. Sometimes they are the easiest dog to live with you could have ever imagined!

I spent a Saturday morning photographing some of these available dogs looking for their forever home.
Photographing dogs sounds simple. Get out a yummy treat, make a chicken clucking sound for the endearingly cute dog heat tilt. Snap. Done. Instead I ended up with a whole group of dogs, large and small, all racing around a big backyard.

Adopt Jesse

Wilbur, Ranger, Duke, Shawna, Jesse and Tempura are just a small sampling of the dogs passing through the local area animal shelter each week. There’s no way I can photograph every good dog that ends up homeless.

Zeus is an active boy, smart, trainable with one blue eye.

Zeus is an active boy, smart, trainable with one blue eye.

While one neighbor is fostering several dogs, another neighbor has yet one more litter of unwanted Chihuahua puppies. This is a community problem. Let’s stop it. Here’s how you can help:


2. SUPPORT legislation that seeks to end puppy mills.

2. ENCOURAGE people considering a particular breed to look into breed specific rescue.

3. GET a cool shelter dog! Do you know his story? Tell people.

4. TRAIN your dog to be the best canine citizen he can be. Make him a COOL former shelter dog.

5. BEST DOG TRAINING ADVICE: A tired dog is a good dog 🙂

6. PET FRIENDLY: If you’re a landlord, work to make it possible for renters to have a pet.

7. SPAY/NEUTER your PET. There are many low cost options available. Sometimes it’s even FREE.


Even pure bred dogs end up at the shelter like Duke, the perfect black labrador! 

Meet Duke, a beautiful, sweet pure bred black labrador. He worships the tennis ball and joyful retrieving. While there are many wonderful breed specific rescue groups, they don’t always have room for another dog. Duke was lucky to land in the care of ACTion Program for Animals, Las Cruces, NM.

Tempura, sharpei for adoption

                      Tempura, a pure bred shar-pei. 

Species Spectrum seeks to personalize the public’s association with rescue and to acknowledge the dedicated individuals and small non-profits working tirelessly to ensure that more dogs, cats and other pets find their forever home.

Please consider adding a shelter dog(s) to your family. Thank you if you already have a shelter dog, cat or other pet. Check speciesspectrum.com  again soon because a few of these wonderful dogs will be featured in our upcoming greeting cards!

-Jes McKay Gilmore


Loss of Pet: How to Cope

loss of pet
Bella looks over Enzo’s Grave. Enzo passed away February 24, 2014. He is one of the first Species Spectrum greeting cards. Enzo helped create the best seller, “The real mountain is within you”. He will always be remembered as ‘We need more little dog in the hat”. We love you Enzo.
This sweet photo shows the essence of pet loss. Bella, a one year old rescued German Shepherd looks over Enzo’s grave. Bella was adopted just three months ago where she made friends with Enzo, an adopted Italian Greyhound. When we have beloved pets we are faced with one day losing them.

We are never prepared for this. The grief of pet loss is often  equated with the great pain of losing a human loved one (no offense to people). Our pets are family. Some of us will say the pain is too great and close the door to having another dog, cat or other pet. Grief comes in waves and we all cope differently. Most of us will go get another pet when it is right for us whether that is the next day or the next year. Many will say there is no dog like the dog no longer with us. This is true. No dog will ever be the dog you had before. It will be different, but it will also be great.

I have gone through pet loss many times with my own pets, but also those of friends and people who’s pets I have come to love. Enzo was of of those pets. I’ve been photographing rescue animals and other people’s pets for a long time. Each one has a story and this is what Species Spectrum is about. Enzo was one of the very first greeting cards I designed and published.  He is the basis for essentially the entire Species Spectrum greeting card line and the idea behind it: Showcase rescue animals in a positive way through a product people can share. Enzo has a great story. He was adopted through Greyhound Companions of New Mexico. He was an Italian Greyhound who came from Roswell, NM. Enzo is an example of how many ‘pure bred’ dogs end up needing help in finding a permanent loving home. He definitely found that and spent the remaining six years of his life being treated like the prince of yoga.


Enzo was a pure bred Italian Greyhound dog adopted from Greyhound Companions of New Mexico

Enzo’s little spirit is missed, but his mission is bigger than the pain of losing him. I am sad he is gone, but at the same time I’m not sad. Here’s why: Enzo lived out his days as well loved dog and died peacefully at home in his fleece dog bed at the age of nearly twelve. Any dog (or pet) that has lived a long life being loved and cared for is lucky. Having worked in animal shelters, I know not every deserving animal is so lucky. This is why I hope that in honoring the loss of your own beloved pet, your grief is tempered by a greater compassion in helping the lives of animals that need someone’s help today.

Enzo, you were one amazing little hound!

Jes McKay Gilmore, speciesspectrum.com

R.I. P Enzo, you are always loved! I wish you lots of Golden Pride Chicken in your next life! Hear Enzo sing! 


How Westminster Dog Show Could Help Dogs

shelter dog, adopt

June, a PUREBRED Australian Cattle Dog, adopted on her last day at the animal shelter

I love dogs! I have always enjoyed watching the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, but ‘prestige’ at the hands of a judge who favors poodles and terriers is NOT helping the dogs of the world.

Each year the judge is accompanied onto the green in a satin gown, holding the famous Best in Show ribbon awarded to the best looking dog (which frequently isn’t). It is a waste of a captive audience, even if it were my favorite breed (the Australian Cattle Dog, the Mastiff and twenty five others) . This is the crowning dog centric moment of the year to motivate and educate people about dogs across America.

Did you know a third of dogs in America’s shelters are pure bred? Most people don’t know unless they have their ‘paw on the pulse’ so to speak. No acknowledgement in the airing of Westminster Dog Show is made to the many pure bred rescue groups working to adopt dogs across the country. I’m not even talking about America’s beloved ‘mutt’ (I have one). I’m talking about breed specific rescue.

Watching America’s beloved Labrador and Golden Retriever prance happily and perfectly groomed around the ring, you’d never think that dogs like this end up in the shelter. But they do end up in the shelter or in a newspaper classified ‘Looking for a Good Home Ad’ every single day in first world America.

Westminster Kennel Club shames me by ignoring ANY public coverage in supporting the work of the people helping many of America’s pure bred dogs that wind up homeless. A step in the right direction was their reference to mutts as ‘All American Dogs’ and the Agility Event. The later allowed non-pure bred dogs to compete. I support Westminster for these efforts, however I expect much more from this historic celebrated dog show showcasing pure bred dogs.

Westminster completely ignores educating the public about pure-bred rescue dogs.
This blatant conflict of interest in show vs rescue dogs is clearly illustrated in the nearly one million dogs registered by the AKC, which attributes to twenty five million in revenue each year for the American Kennel Club.

Therein lies the massive secret of the dog show: Many AKC registrable puppies are born in puppy mills also known under the euphemism ‘commercial kennel’.
How do you recognize a puppy mill? There are more signs than just a vast number of puppies and tired mother dogs kept constantly pregnant. The AKC condones vast numbers of puppies because as they say on their website “quality is not about quantity”. I am not against all dog breeding, nor am I suggesting a breeding ban,  but this point must be addressed.

Any good breeder knows that if they are making a profit from dog breeding, something is wrong in the care and attention to their animals. Further more, any good breeder will happily take back a puppy or adult dog that an owner is relinquishing because they know they are responsible for breeding the dog and ensuring that animal has a life time home.

I wholeheartedly understand the desire to raise a puppy and also a love for a particular breed of dog. What I am against is the wave of AKC endorsed irresponsible breeding allowed to operate and for another group of people dealing with much heart ache as they work to foster and place unwanted animals.

Perhaps I sound like an “activist” which is considered a bad word sometimes. However, I have worked and volunteered with animal shelters. I have been responsible for bringing a dog into the room in which he will be put to sleep because he can’t find a home. I have been in a room full of dead dogs because there were not homes for them.  Do not condemn your local animal shelter who is often faced with difficult decisions each day because the community relies upon the shelter to be the safe haven of unwanted animals.

We are the one’s responsible for dogs. All of us have a role to play and that is one of respect and responsibility. We are given the huge privilege of sharing our lives with dogs. Dogs in turn fit into our many varied lifestyles adapting to our world, working at our side and often in self-less service to us as assistance dogs, guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, police dogs,  therapy dogs, cancer and seizure detection dogs and beyond. For thousands of years dogs have been a part of our lives. We have bred them into every shape and size imaginable, often at the expense of their health.

The pushed faced breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs have suffered at the expense of an arbitrary ‘breed standard’ calling for a more foreshortened nose that makes it difficult to breathe and leaves them prone to heatstroke in warmer weather.  Bulldogs are frequently born via caesarian because their heads are so large. Many of the ‘tea cup’ dogs such as Yorkshire Terriers are born with collapsed trachea because we have bred them so small. The Chihuahua has been the victim of a breed standard calling for a ’rounded, apple shaped’ head leaving them vulnerable to epilepsy. Many of the larger breeds such as Newfoundlands are prone to hip-dysplasia as well as many cancers.

Outside the first world, no one is breeding the perfect dog. Instead millions of dogs live on the streets of the third world and in big cities where people attempt to exterminate them. This has come to attention during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. An outraged international public in light of the Olympics is actually making an impact for the better in the lives of these Sochi dogs.

There is the incredible photography of Julie McGuire, who photographed the rescue dogs of Penang Animal Welfare Society in Malaysia.

Martin Usborne’s is another photographer using photography to help dogs!  Check out Year to Help project.

This is the kind of thing Westminster Kennel Club needs to do if they want to put ‘prestige’ back in the Dog Show. Be a representative of that which you propose to love; help ALL dogs live well.

Purina in it’s advertising, also could have stepped up the ‘standard’ (pun intended) beyond the winning affenpinscher’s billowing hair in the wind and actually use their air time effectively. Be innovative. Don’t pander to celebrity dogdom and then do nothing. Get on the TODAY show and talk about dogs in need. You can sell yourself without selling out.

I have educated many people one on one about the availability of rescue pure-bred dogs. The fact is that many people still are unaware that breed specific rescue exists. I am not ignoring mutts in this process, but simply drawing awareness toward rescue in a way that Westminster can be a supportive asset.

I don’t know what happened to the Pedigree commercials this year, but that was a use of mass advertising acknowledging dogs in need. Kudo’s to Pedigree for making an effort in the difficult blend of advertising and feel good connection. I sure wish the Sarah Mclachlan ASPCA advertisement had aired during Westminster Dog Show. Maybe that is the pendulum swinging the other way showing desperation as a way to generate support. Well, if that’s what it takes.

I love dogs. Westminster Kennel Club purports being all about dogs. Making awareness and support for rescue dogs an integral aspect of Westminster’s ‘prestigious event’ should be an obvious component.

Lastly, was it just me or did last year’s Affenpinscher winner look like Eugene Levy in “Best in Show”? Activist is not a bad word, it is what makes you a ‘winner’.

Jes McKay Gilmore


Cute Bats for Halloween

baby bat

Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Durban, South Africa





A baby bat rehabilitated at the Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife outside of Durban, South Africa. I love the shadow of this little guy!

In a tree where no one would notice were many eyes looking down.

Best photo opportunity I’ve ever had for bats! They are actually quite cute contrary to the whole ‘Vampire’ thing. The Twilight Series, meh.

Real bats. Amazing!

Happy Halloween from Species Spectrum! Next year one of these guys will be featured on a greeting card!

Review of Blackfish, the Documentary about Sea World’s Orca Whales

Answer this question: Is keeping Orca Whales in a tank humane? An animal that in the wild swims miles a day and lives it’s entire lifetime in a family pod?

Vanity Fair described ‘Blackfish’ as “A mesmerizing psychological thriller”.

Perhaps this is to intrigue more of the general public or maybe Vanity Fair was afraid of being sued by the Blackstone Group, the investment firm that owns Sea World.

If Vanity Fair had said, “Blackfish reveals the horrors endured by the killer whales of Sea World,” would some ninny Sea World spokeswoman explained that the animals are ‘happy’?

Kudos to Blackfish for being the first feature documentary addressing the decay and abuse of Orca whales in captivity, specifically at Sea World.

However, what is the call to action at the end of viewing the pain and suffering?

I wanted to see Blackfish harnessing the power of viewers perhaps drawing people to a specific website. While there are multiple ‘Set Orcas at Sea World Free’ campaigns, they are not united enough to contribute upheaval.

UPDATE: It is incredibly comforting to see the ‘Blackfish Effect’ uniting and that both Netflix and CNN continue to air Blackfish.

Peta has a good one:


Blackstone Group is more than welcome to operate as a ‘theme park’ but NOT at the expense of killer whales like Tilikum being used as a sperm bank and kept in fish bowls. The calves born in the Sea World program are often separated from their mothers. Is this ‘humane’?

Sea World cannot claim their role in ‘conservation’ when the animals are performing on behalf of bank rolls and maintained in an an artificial environment that could never be healthy.


1. Boycott Sea World – The numbers of attendance MUST drop. Educate yourself and others.

2. Sea World targets Teachers and Youth – Educate your students, they are never too young to learn! For God’s sake educate teachers and Parents!

3. SOUTHWEST is a Sea World Partner – Petition SOUTHWEST to cut ties to Sea World, The easiest partner target.

4. Coca Cola is a Sea World Partner (This is a tough one because they supply their product to Sea World).

5. Panama Jack is a Sea World Partner – Do NOT buy their products.

6. Emmy award? Sea World claims they have an ‘Emmy Award winning DVD’. Who  issued that?

Weaken the system that strengthens Sea World to make the change so Orca Whales are no longer living out their lives in a bathtub.

Thank You.

Jes McKay Gilmore