74 episodes

Hosted by Duncan Strauss, Talking Animals is a weekly radio show about animals and animal issues. It currently airs Wednesdays, from 10-11am ET, on WMNF (88.5 FM), a 70,000-watt NPR affiliate in Tampa.

The core of Talking Animals is a long-form interview with prominent figures in the animal world or notable folks in other fields who have ties to animal welfare.

Past guests include Jane Goodall, Alec Baldwin, Temple Grandin, Dr. Neal Barnard, Lily Tomlin, Bob Barker, Neko Case, Nathan Runkle, Dr. Lori Marino, Jackson Galaxy, Paula Poundstone, Brian May, and Sy Montgomery.

Alongside the interview, Talking Animals is rounded out by animal news and announcements, animal songs, animal comedy, and a quick quiz feature, Name That Animal Tune. https://talkinganimals.net

Talking Animals Duncan Strauss

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.2 • 24 Ratings

Hosted by Duncan Strauss, Talking Animals is a weekly radio show about animals and animal issues. It currently airs Wednesdays, from 10-11am ET, on WMNF (88.5 FM), a 70,000-watt NPR affiliate in Tampa.

The core of Talking Animals is a long-form interview with prominent figures in the animal world or notable folks in other fields who have ties to animal welfare.

Past guests include Jane Goodall, Alec Baldwin, Temple Grandin, Dr. Neal Barnard, Lily Tomlin, Bob Barker, Neko Case, Nathan Runkle, Dr. Lori Marino, Jackson Galaxy, Paula Poundstone, Brian May, and Sy Montgomery.

Alongside the interview, Talking Animals is rounded out by animal news and announcements, animal songs, animal comedy, and a quick quiz feature, Name That Animal Tune. https://talkinganimals.net

    Anton Ptushkin, director of “Saving the Animals of Ukraine”

    Anton Ptushkin, director of “Saving the Animals of Ukraine”

    Anton Ptushkin–director of the PBS Nature documentary profiling the efforts of Ukrainian citizens to rescue animals amidst the destruction of the war—describes the sort of travel pieces he produced as a YouTuber, before he morphed into a war correspondent. Ptushkin notes that this transformation wasn’t the product of a specific ambition, but rather, reflected an inevitable need he and his colleagues felt to cover the conflict unfolding across the country. Similarly, he says, the decision to make “Saving the Animals of Ukraine” was born of a desire to chronicle the war’s wreckage by telling the stories of these efforts to extricate an array of animals literally from harm’s way…and the potent parallel here between animals and people. Ptushkin first cites the story of Patron, a Jack Russell Terrier who becomes a bomb-sniffing dog, so effective at this work—at saving countless lives—that he was honored by UNICEF, named a UNICEF Ukraine official AmbassaDog. (I point out that–for those, like me, who are concerned about the risks for dogs deployed to locate mines—it was comforting to learn that Patron weighs too little to trigger an explosion.) Throughout “Saving the Animals of Ukraine,” Ptushkin tells a string of inspiring and compelling stories, some of which he shares in our conversation. Patron was one. Another was Shafa, the cat with “a mean face,” who was spotted in the bombed-out ruins of the seventh floor apartment where he’d been stranded for 60 days, with no food or water. In our chat, Ptushkin calls attention to the important detail that Shafa is 13-years-old. As depicted in the film, Shafa not only survived, but eventually became a social media star. And the Shafa saga clearly struck a chord, eliciting a big string of financial donations from people affected by Shafa—as a symbol of the war—and wanted to do something. Along the way, as the film (and conversation) unspools, we meet (and address) other notable animals, including: Bretzel, a lion who’d been confined to a very small enclosure near the front lines, so the shelling  was particularly traumatizing—he clearly has PTSD, mitigated by being relocated to a sanctuary in Spain; Dimitry Revnyuk, founder of the animal rescue organization Zoopatrul/Zoopatrol, is shown innovating methods to feed abandoned pets in locked apartments, and later, with some of the donations that have poured in, he constructs a shelter. (pbs.org/nature, facebook.com/PBSNature, instagram.com/pbsnature; youtube.com/naturepbs, tiktok.com/@pbsnature) [Photos by Anton Ptushkin]
    ALSO: I played back the interview I’d recorded the previous day with Largo Police Sgt. Haley Sequiera. She’s the handler of Pension, the Department’s first therapy dog, brought in with the intention of providing comfort to Largo Police employees and to reduce the anxiety of crime victims. Sequiera recounts how she researched and otherwise undertook the preparations for implementing the department’s inaugural therapy dog program. She described Pension–a one-year-old rescue, a “mix”—and the thorough training the dog underwent, followed by the extensive extensive training Sequiera and Pension went through as a team, in preparation for this new assignment. Sequiera gives an account of how she and Pension—now officially deployed—spend their days. [Photo Courtesy of Largo Police Department]
    COMEDY CORNER: Jim Gaffigan’s “A Good Dad/I Rescued A Dog” (https://jimgaffigan.com)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/TAMay15Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Jennifer Langston, founder of Golden Ears Sanctuary and Rescue

    Jennifer Langston, founder of Golden Ears Sanctuary and Rescue

    Jennifer Langston–founder of Golden Ears Sanctuary and Rescue, a specialized refuge for senior and hospice dogs in Wesley Chapel, FL—recalls growing up in a house where dogs were always present, whether they be fosters, newly-adopted, or the family pooch. Notably, for the canine establishment she would create later in life, she recounts that her Mom instilled in Langston and her siblings a sense of responsibility toward these pups that extended through the end of their lives. She remembers the first dog she felt a powerful kinship with, a Doberman rescue named Bingo. And, not surprisingly, Bingo was the pup whose passing constituted Langston’s first significant dog loss. And given the central focus of today’s show, it’s probably also unsurprising that I ask her to describe the impact of that loss. When queried about other dog losses over the years that affected her profoundly, interestingly, she instantly replied with an enormously recent one: Tyson, chow who arrived at Golden Ears paralyzed in his back legs, but wasn’t born that way. As she discusses Tyson, it’s clear that this dog stole her heart. As part of that description, she noted that when a stranger visited the Sanctuary, Tyson—when out of his wheelchair—would drag his body to a position between the visitor and Langston, clearly aiming to protect her. Tyson passed away on April 12, 2024.Langston offers a narrated tour of Golden Ears Sanctuary and Rescue, which is located in her Wesley Chapel home, spread across one and a quarter acres. While she preferred not to say how many dogs reside there, Langston clearly has many mouths to feed, and many vet bills to pay. A nonprofit organization, 501(c)(3), Golden Ears relies almost exclusively on donations to underwrite the resident canines’ medical and surgical care, physical therapy and medication, as well as general care and feeding. The operation is additionally funded by occasional large events, including their 6th Annual Pins for Pups bowling fundraiser, taking place on June 22. (https://goldenearsrescue.org/, https://www.facebook.com/goldenearssanctuary, https://www.instagram.com/golden_ears_sanctuary/?hl=en, https://goldenearsrescue.org/events)
    ALSO: I spoke briefly with  Rachael Essex, Residence Coordinator and Staff Advisor of Pet Life, at Eckerd College, which, the previous day, had held its 12th annual Pet Graduation, which conferred diploma-like certificates on a slew of animals. As Essex described the ceremony, there were an enormous menagerie of graduates–mostly dogs and cats, but a host of others, too, including snakes, a bearded dragon, and a hedgehog. Essex observes that Eckerd has a long history of honoring animals and supporting their presence, highlighted by being the first college to accept on-campus pets. Currently, for the 2023-24 school year, Eckerd students registered 151 pets with the student-run organization, Pet Life Council. Which means of the more than 1713 students who live on campus, the better part of 9% reside with their pets. (https://www.eckerd.edu/housing/pet-life/)
    COMEDY CORNER: Max Rosenblum’s “Dog People” (https://maxrosenblum.com/)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/TAMay8Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Arin Greenwood on loving & living with dogs

    Arin Greenwood on loving & living with dogs

    Arin Greenwood–a wearer of many hats, mostly animal-related, including Director of Philanthropy Communications at Austin Pets Alive! former animal journalist extraordinaire (HuffPost, Washington Post, The Today Show website, et al), and novelist–maintains a sizable social media presence, posting regularly on Facebook, which in a way, spawned this interview. That is, I was struck by the poignant story Arin chronicled through a series of Facebook posts, starting with the emotional gut-punch of losing their longtime, beloved pointer mix, Murray…grieving that profound loss. Then, the posts recounted the ensuing phases and steps they took, reflecting the feeling that they wanted to eventually welcome another dog into their family, while remaining mindful of the peace and well-being of their three cats. Thinking this sort of discussion could help folks who’ve lost a dog, and are navigating through similar stages–an important, and in many ways, universal narrative amongst dog lovers–I invited Arin back on the show (she’s been a guest multiple times) to elaborate on the actions, and emotions, she captured in those FB posts. One facet that stood out in her account is Arin’s and her husband’s inclination to foster dogs, including when they were about to hunker down with a hurricane headed their way. Clearly an advocate of “foster to adopt,” a shelter practice that introduced the couple to dogs they almost did adopt, but opted not to—because one of them didn’t feel quite ready emotionally, or the dog (in this case, a handsome canine named Jimmy) turned out to not be a good fit with the cats and as a pooch powerhouse, worried he might be a bit too much dog for her on walks and elsewhere, Arin recalled. And she describes the latest pooch in their “foster to adopt” convention, then named June Bug, urged to meet  by a friend, they resisted for a couple of months—then made the acquaintance of a kind, but fearful and super-shy dog. Spoiler alert: Rechristened Judy (full name: Dog Judy), this young lady is now a sweet, relaxed, affectionate pooch, living quite happily with Arin, her husband—and the cats. [Who’s who–upper left: Judy…upper right: Arin, Judy & Elfie…lower left: the late, great Murray, with Chappy…lower right: Judy & Elfie]
    ALSO: I spoke briefly with with Steven Meserve, founder and CEO of Loving Cats Worldwide, which organizes sprawling feline-oriented events across multiple countries, very much including the U.S. Indeed, the Tampa CATStravaganza is happening May 18 & 19 at the Tampa Convention Center. It will feature local rescues participating in an adoption event, an International Cat Competition, cats strutting in the CATwalk, a Best in Show competition, a feline-oriented shopping village, and more. For more information, or to enter your cat in a competition, follow this link: https://lcwwgroup.com/events/tampa-may-2024
    COMEDY CORNER: Nate Fridson’s “Horse Racing” (DS edit)    (https://www.instagram.com/fridskins/x)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/TAMay1Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Lee Asher, dog adoption champion, social media juggernaut

    Lee Asher, dog adoption champion, social media juggernaut

    Lee Asher–a staunch advocate of dog adoption whose profile has risen dramatically in recent years, owing to a handful of factors, including multiple compelling stories: his ADHD and attendant childhood isolation prompted him to regularly visit his local animal shelter as a kid, years later crisscrossing the country in an RV, traveling to animal shelters, accompanied by his own pack of 10+ dogs—recalls those formative years, feeling disconnected from his peers and profoundly connected to pooches. Addressing the schoolkid experience of contending with his attention deficit disorder, Asher projects the fortitude of a motivational speaker, saying things like “vulnerability is power,” providing a glimpse into the resilience and drive that helped propel his canine kinship into starring in the Animal Planet series, “My Pack Life,” and becoming a social media juggernaut. Archer observes that it’s not uncommon for comments on his posts to pledge that once that person retires, or wins the Lottery, they plan to open a sanctuary–an assertion he firmly refutes, urging folks to volunteer at their local shelter in even the smallest of ways now; do not wait. He notes that whatever else he was doing—attending college, launching a career in the financial field, and so on—he always worked on getting dogs adopted, and always had a pack wherever he went. He traces the path of making the complicated decision to leave his job in finance (alienating those who helped him land that position), sell his possessions, buy an RV, and hit the road, driving to animal shelters across the country, promoting adoption, accompanied by his then-pack of around 10 dogs. This journey lasted about two years, followed by some shorter stints—then COVID hit, closing shelters to visitors, pulling Asher off the road, and galvanizing him to open his first sanctuary in Estacada, Oregon. That facility and others didn’t just house dogs, but also cats, horses, alpacas, sheep, and other animals—the backdrop for his 2022 Animal Planet series, “My Pack Life.” He addresses the question that many of his Florida followers had raised in the run-up to this interview—the possibility of Asher opening a Florida sanctuary—basically confirming that this is a distinct possibility, but not an imminent one, wanting to focus for now on the existing sanctuaries, his burgeoning social media operation, and other projects. One of those projects involves a speaking tour, under the title, “Unlock Your Superpower,” including Florida appearances at the Florida Theater, in Jacksonville on May 29, at the Hard Rock Orlando on May 30, and the Capitol Theater, in Clearwater, on May 31. (https://www.theasherhouse.com/, https://www.facebook.com/TheAsherHouse/, https://www.instagram.com/theasherhouse/?hl=en, https://theofficialleeasher.com/tour/)
     
    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Dara Eckart, CEO of Friends of Strays, the St. Petersburg no-kill shelter (caring for animals for 45 years, Eckart noted), which has organized a Free Microchip and Vaccine Clinic for Dogs on April 27. She outlines the key details of the Clinic, including that it’s limited to Pinellas County residents, offered to dogs only (and two dogs maximum per party), and that it happens from 8am to noon—or until supplies run out; it’s first come, first served—at 863 3rd Avenue North, St. Petersburg, FL, 33701-2703. Dogs participating will receive a microchip, along with rabies, kennel cough, and DAPPv vaccinations, plus one bag of food. Plus, Eckart explained, The St. Pete Free Clinic will provide one box of human food per party. No advance registration is required for the Clinic. (https://www.friendsofstrays.org/, https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofStraysAnimalShelter, https://www.instagram.com/friendsofstrays)
    COMEDY CORNER: Jeremy Hotz’s “Bronx Zoo” (DS edit)   (https://jeremyhotz.com/)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  We [...]

    Matt Hamilton–writer-director of “Raptors: A Fistful of Daggers”

    Matt Hamilton–writer-director of “Raptors: A Fistful of Daggers”

    Matt Hamilton–writer-director of “Raptors: A Fistful of Daggers,” an unusual two-part edition of the PBS series, “Nature,” which premiered April 10, while the second episode debuts on April 17—recalls the impetus for creating this double-shot of cinematic raptor mania. Part of his explanation involved not having seen a documentary that delved deeply into the realm of raptors. Let’s just say that, with “Raptors: A Fistful of Daggers,” Hamilton definitely filled that void. Noting that one theme that emerges from these two films is that– owing to harsh habitats and/or dangerous prey–raptors face enormous day-to-day challenges, I ask Hamilton about parallel challenges he may have faced as a filmmaker seeking to capture footage of these birds in action. His response amounted to an emphatic Yes, citing circumstances ranging from areas where the temperatures dangled at 40-50 degrees below zero, while another location was beset with a cyclone, relentless rain, then Hamilton recounted, that same place was hit by an earthquake. But, he noted cheerfully, such are the vagaries of natural history filmmaking, where you often need to “put a smile on your face” and forge ahead. We engaged in a philosophical discussion about how the work of natural history filmmakers may be shaped by the general feelings about a species they’re profiling—meaning, how a decidedly charismatic animal, like a lion or elephant, may be handled or depicted onscreen differently than, say, raptors, which are decidedly not charismatic. Hamilton explains how he selected the birds featured, among the some 500 species of raptors. As part of this, we also discussed some of raptors that constitute the film’s second installment, subtitled “Extreme Lives,” including The Florida Snail Kite, whose story involves a tale of adaptation and evolution worthy of a sci-fi anthology. Deliberated, too, were the Honey Buzzards (whose predatory practices align more with a horror flick), and the Secretary Bird. [Photos by Matt Hamilton]  (https://www.pbs.org/show/nature/, https://www.facebook.com/PBSNature/, https://www.instagram.com/pbsnature/)
    COMEDY CORNER: Matt Braunger’s  “Owls”  (https://www.mattbraunger.com/)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  George Harrison’s “Dark Horse”
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Listen Online Now: https://talkinganimals.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/TAApril10Final.mp3 | Open Player in New Window

    Deborah Howard, President of Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS)

    Deborah Howard, President of Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS)

    Deborah Howard—founder-president of the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS), self-described, you may recall, as “the only national nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals from cruelty in pet shops and puppy/kitten mills”—returns for a conversational sequel to our January interview, because we didn’t have time to discuss the ways CAPS has broadened its mission in recent years. Being careful not to assume everyone listening this time had also heard the January conversation, we spent the initial moments addressing CAPS’ core mission, engaging in a lightening round of Puppy Mills 101. This led to Howard issuing cautionary tales about pet shops, pet store chains, and online puppy sales, about which CAPS has produced a documentary, slated to be available on YouTube, Vimeo, and the organization’s social media pages.Howard makes it clear that the dark problems with puppy mills—weak, often sick dogs, bred incessantly in vile, stinky, caged circumstances, devoid of human interaction or socialization—have been exacerbated in the internet age, with websites displaying idyllic settings from which these pooches-for-purchase ostensibly emerge. Heck, even Craig’s List is a problematic source of puppy mill dogs in this way, Howard notes. In what may constitute a natural outgrowth of this work combatting puppy mills that Howard has been doing since 1989, CAPS has moved into animal shelter reform in California—producing a short documentary on this topic. A focus of these efforts has been Kern County Animal Services (KCAS), in Bakersfield, which sounds like a facility that’s really jumped the rails: metal buildings (it can get blazing hot there), no regular spay/neuter procedures, dramatically low save rate, overcrowded, often filthy enclosures, riddled with urine and feces…When Howard is asked what led the Kern County Animal Services to stumble so far astray—I suggest possible explanations might involve budget problems, leadership issues, shelter &/or county policies—she speculates that it’s likely a combination of those factors. She adds that given its Central California location, she was surprised to find that none of KCAS’ handouts or literature were offered in Spanish. Howard underscores how important she feels—as another element of CAPS’ widening mission: pursuing national Latino outreach—that important documents, PSAs, spots for radio & TV, should be produced in both English and Spanish. To that end, CAPS enlisted Jacqui Pinol, the animal advocate and bilingual actress, to record spay/neuter PSAs for TV and radio, in English and Spanish. (https://www.caps-web.org/, https://www.instagram.com/caps_web/, https://www.facebook.com/CompanionAnimalProtectionSociety)

    ALSO: I spoke briefly with Spencer Conover, Assistant Director of Pasco County Animal Services (PCAS), discussing the Shelter Slumber Pawty they’re throwing this weekend—part of a national coalition of shelters offering a sleepover event at their facilities on April 6-7, though he notes Pasco County is the only Florida shelter participating. Conover explains The Pawty functions fundamentally as a fundraiser for PCAS—there’s a fee charged to attend—while providing the Slumber Party People an array of opportunities and activities, including settling in for the evening at the Shelter with the adoptable animals currently housed there, catered dinner and breakfast, a movie, games and more. He added PCAS will be taking reservations through Friday evening. (https://www.pascocountyfl.net/services/animal_services/index.php, https://www.facebook.com/groups/507994392606451)
     
    COMEDY CORNER: Eddie Izzard’s’ “Horse Whisperers”  (https://www.eddieizzard.com/en)
    MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
    NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.
    AUDIO ARCHIVE:
    Listen Online Now: [...]

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5
24 Ratings

24 Ratings

Credibility specialist ,

Credibility specialist

I took some time today to listen to your show!! Talking Animals is a fantastic podcast with great info, advice, and perspectives. You won't regret listening to and learning from the podcast.

FlamingAsh ,

Calling all Animal Luvers!

This podcast is for any and every animal lover out there!

Nuurdheere ,

Mr

Good app. It's nice

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