May 14, 2007

Baby Turtle Orphan

Our house used to sit all by itself in the middle of a big field until a builder bought all the land around us and built a bunch of ugly houses, and in doing so, drastically changed the way our property drains after a heavy rain. Each time it rains for more than an afternoon of showers the water from the surrounding properties runs down the street, down our driveway, and forms some pretty substantial pools on our back lawn that only my ducks could love (and believe me, they do). And given that it's been raining like a bastard here, we've had more than our share of water come flooding down our driveway. Only this time, it carried a tiny surprise with it.

Last Sunday morning my husband was returning from an errand and as he got out of the car, called me over from tending the duck flock to come see what he'd found upon stepping out of the car: an impossibly tiny baby snapping turtle, no bigger than a quarter: golden yellow belly, sharp little claws and an unbelievably little pointy snout. As Sunday was the first dry day in many, and quite warm, the little turtle was horribly dry and barely moving. I couldn't wait to hold him, but while David examined him, I called Griffin to come outside to see the little guy before we let him go.

David carried him down to the small marsh behind our house and setting him gently on a twig that rested half on the shore and half on the water's surface, we watched and waited. He didn't move at all, so we decided to go about our business and leave him be for a bit. Maybe he'd find the courage to move into the water once he was alone.

I then walked up the street and back down it from where the water usually originates during heavy rains, just to be sure that there weren't any other baby turtles who had been stranded in the deluge, but both the road and my neighbors' yards were empty. About ten minutes later as I was returning to my own yard, I realized that in the excitement of setting him free, I had completely forgotten to take a minute to hold him before we set him free. I dashed back to the water's edge, but the twig was empty and the little turtle was nowhere to be seen (of course, a head that tiny could never be seen poking above the surface anyways). I was both sad and glad. I wish I'd had the chance to hold him, but I'm so happy to have a beautiful turtle living and growing in our wetland back there. I've checked to see if I can spot him several times since that first day, but with no luck yet. Soon he'll be bigger and then maybe I'll be able to see him swimming and sunning out there. I can't wait!

May 9, 2007

The Beauty of Nature in My Own Backyard

Living with a wetland behind my house has its advantages. It has its disadvantages too, like a cellar that floods when it rains for days on end, an often funky "swamp stink" during the hottest days of summer, and a lot of mud on the banks and thus on your feet when you stray too far from the back lawn. There is, however, a tremendous amount of wildlife that lives just a stone's throw from my back door.

Every spring and summer wild mallards set up their household back there. They always come up to the barn to visit my domestic ducks, sauntering cockily around the pens, stealing the odd tidbits from my birds, and generally causing a great ruckus when my own ducks go territorially berserk.

Two weeks ago I discovered a female groundhog has been digging a burrow and a nest back there. She's simply adorable to watch: ambling about stuffing bits of grasses and leaves for bedding material into her chubby cheeks, shifting them about with her front paws to make room for a few more pieces of grass, stopping here and there for this and that. And always stopping every couple of steps to adjust her treasures with those little feet. One afternoon we spent a good half hour calmly watching each other with tremendous interest before we both went about our own business once again.

There's a great blue heron that flies overhead several times a day, but never lands close enough for me to get a good, long look at it. The wetland extends for quite a ways and as the beautiful bird seems to live more towards the other end of it, I never get to see it land. I do, however, love the way herons carry their long, graceful legs straight out behind them while they're flying, feet held daintily together.

I also love the sound of the hundreds of peepers out there come nightfall, chirping away in their attempts to find a mate. The rhythm of their calls is a wonderful way to be lulled to sleep. I only wish the deer who use the wetland nightly for a watering hole would stop eating my hemlocks. Tasty as they might be, my trees now look like crap no matter what angle you view them from. But all in all, everything else out there is as close to perfection as you could want.

May 8, 2007

Eye Poppin' Puppies

I remember a time in the not too distant past when and if two purebred dogs bumped uglies and made a half-breed baby, it was called a mutt and if you bought one, you probably paid all of $50 for your un-pedigreed pet. So when did two purebreds fucking and making that same little mutt become something chic?

True, not every cross bred dog is considered fancy enough to deserve the moniker of "designer dog". For example, my own dog who is half Black Labrador Retriever and half German Shepherd. Now if she were half Lab and half Poodle and was a puppy and not a senior citizen, she'd be worth far more than the $50 she cost me at a shelter back in 1991. About a couple of thousand dollars or so more.

Here are some of the top designer dogs:
1. Labrador Retriever and Poodle ( the Labradoodle)
2. Maltese and Poodle (the Maltipoo)
3. Cocker Spaniel and Poodle (the Cockapoo)
4. Schnauzer and Poodle (the Schnoodle)
5. Yorkshire Terrier and Poodle (the Yorkipoo)

Apparently anything you can get to fuck with a Poodle is currently all the rage as a cool pet. Does anyone else think this is insane? And how difficult was it to convince a highly gullible public that's always hungry for the next big thing that will make them the envy of all their friends to believe that this shit was the next big thing? Obviously not very, because people are stupid. I'll give it up for the breeders though, because this is one very lucrative new industry.

I read in the National Geographic News that there are potential problems with people just throwing purebred dogs together and mating them indiscriminately. No kidding. My favorite quotes came from Beverly Manners, a 30-year veteran breeder of German Shepherds and a licensed dog show judge. She says that not all hybrids are a good idea and that "unfortunately the designer dog phenomenon has unleashed a surge of amateur breeders who lack credentials and genetics expertise." She says that there needs to be an educated match. Take a moment to consider this: "Crossing a pug with a Pekingese, for example, could produce disastrous consequences. Both breeds have eyes that easily pop out of the socket to rest on the cheek. Surgery is required to fix the injury, often at the cost of the dogs' sight. Breeding the two could yield a dog that literally has its eyes falling out," Manners says. Yummy. (Props to for these quotes by the way).

Bottom line. A mutt is a mutt is a mutt, no matter how you look at it and all these dogs are mutts, no matter what cute little name you want to call them and anyone paying more than the couple of hundred bucks they'd be donating to a shelter today for the privilege of owning a crossbreed is a fool. A fool with a ridiculously expensive dog. A dog whose eyes hopefully won't fall out.
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