The adventuresome life of a Great Pyrenees/Newfoundland dog in Northwestern Ontario

Posts tagged ‘mystery’

And Then, the Rains Came

A few days after our fire, the rain finally came. It rained for most of the last half of September. In fact, it has been one of the wettest second halves of September on record.

We were glad to get the forest dampened down. Forests need to be damp. The trees need to drink and, well, you’ve just seen on a very small scale how dangerous things can get when the woods dry up.

But we decided to show you another aspect of forest fire aftermath that occurs in this area, something that happens when the rain comes after a bad fire. So, the Scribe and I went for another walk with the camera.

The burned area after the rainy latter half of September. Notice how bare the bedrock is.

Here in the Boreal Forest, the soil takes a very long time to build up. Elizabeth tells me that she used to work as an archaeologist in this region, and one of the things that always impressed her was that in the ten thousand years since the Ice Age (that sounds like it must have been a fun time…), there was often only about 30 cm or a foot of soil built up where she would be digging. Where in other areas of the world whole cities have been buried two, three or more times over and they use backhoes and shovels to dig the remains of civilisations up, here they use trowels and popsicle sticks and those ever so carefully!

So, when a forest fire comes along and burns all the organic matter, there really isn’t very much soil left. And, since it is the trees and other smaller plants that are holding the soil together, when those burn, the soil is washed away by the rain or spring run-off when it comes. You can see how that has happened in our burnt over area. The bedrock is naked except for the dead tree roots suspended above it.

As we surveyed the burnt area, Elizabeth said to me, “Look at those tree roots, Stella. They’re like the bones of the forest.”

Then she looked a bit closer. She always does that. She walks with her eyes constantly scanning the ground. I think that is left over from her archaeological days, too. I could see that she’d seen something odd now, but I had no idea what it was. She walked over closer to the bottom edge of the bedrock and started taking photos. She put the lens cover of her camera down so you could get an idea of size… (Click on the first one to see the photo gallery full size!)

Now, how did I miss that! When I went over to take a sniff, I was surprised to find that it smelled just like all the soil around it. It was so old that there was nothing left to chew on it. I looked at Elizabeth. “In the words of Wilkie Collins,” she said, “What does it mean?”

She poked around in the soil a bit but couldn’t find any more bones. She says it is not a butchered bone, nor has it been cooked (until our fire, BOL).

Elizabeth thinks she knows what it is. She says that she’s not 100% sure, but she thinks it is a bear femur. Bear bones look a lot like two-legger bones, but she thinks this is too heavy for a two-legger. She thinks another animal probably dropped it here after picnicking on it. One thing she noticed about it is that, in the last photo and at the right end, part of the bone is broken off, and she wonders if that might have been a hint of what led to the bear’s demise. But it might have broken off after it died. She’s hoping Lil the Egg Lady will put in her two cents and help us solve the Mystery of the Lone Bone.

Tail Thumper of the Week #18

I’m going to cheat a bit this week. Instead of telling you about a dog book, I’m going to let you know about a mystery novel that Elizabeth just read, No Mark Upon Her. It’s by one of Elizabeth’s favourite mystery writers, Deborah Crombie, a volume in her Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid Scotland Yard series.

Click here to buy the book. Elizabeth will donate my commission to It's a Dog's Life!

Click the pic to buy the book. Elizabeth will donate my commission to It’s a Dog’s Life!

Gemma and Duncan have dogs, but they are usually on the fringe of the main story. No Mark Upon Her is a bit different from the others from my point of view, however. In this book, a police detective, who is also a contender in Olympic rowing for England at the 2012 games in London, is found dead in the Thames after a workout one evening.

What makes this book different from Crombie’s others? It isn’t the police who find the missing rower. Oh, no. It’s a couple of search and rescue dogs, Tosh and Finn, that sniff her out! Their finding her body allows the police to examine it and determine that she didn’t have an accident: she was murdered! So, without Tosh and Finn, there wouldn’t even be a story.

And those two dogs? Well they keep their grip on the plot as they would their teeth on an old bone. Finn in particular, a Labrador Retriever like my best pal Bud (only Finn is black), plays a dramatic role throughout the story, saving his master from a dangerous killer on more than one occasion. And that’s exactly as it should be when there are dangerous killers lurking!

However, it would have made for a much shorter story if Finn’s handler, also a rower, name of Kieran, would have just paid attention to Finn from the start. Dogs always notice a lot more than their two-leggers realise. And this failure to fully understand what his dog desperately tries to communicate to him adds a lot of drama to the story. But two-leggers seem to like that sort of thing. I just think it’s stressful.

I’m still trying to figure out why this sort of aberrant human behaviour is so popular among two-leggers who read books. Elizabeth just eats mysteries up like they’re bacon and cheese cookies! And she really enjoyed this one. I could tell.

So if you like mystery stories, particularly if you like English police procedurals, Elizabeth says, with dogs in them, I say, then, by golly, you’d better latch onto this one while she still has it in stock. And if you buy it here, you know that I’ll give my commission to help my homeless dog friends at It’s a Dog’s Life, Kenora’s dog fostering network.

Tail Thumper of the Week #8

Today’s book is part of a mystery series. Elizabeth really likes to read mysteries, and she showed me this one because one of the main characters in it is a big mixed breed dog named Samson.

Samson, just like some particular ‘purebred’ dogs, has a gift. He’s really good at finding people. His two-legger Bree gives him something that belongs to a missing two-legger, and Samson smells it so he knows who he’s looking for. Dog’s don’t see pictures so well. We work better with our noses. Off Samson races in search of the missing two-legger, who is often in danger.

Samson is also very good to have around in dangerous situations because he is big and strong and fast and a good guard dog. Lots of us mixed breed dogs are like that – we can multi-task because we have so many qualities built into us. It’s a bonus God gave us over ‘purebred’ specialities, perhaps. Apparently, judging by the number of books about purebreds compared to those I’ve found about ‘mutts’, we need all the little advantages we get!

At last! A book with a mixed breed co-protagonist! That’s a big word… ~;ob=

Of course, the book isn’t just about Samson, but since I’m a dog, and this is a fund-raiser for homeless, mostly mixed breed dogs – although the two-leggers at It’s a Dog’s Life are not snobs and they love ‘purebred’ dogs just as much as any other dogs that are in trouble. It’s just that they seem to find a lot more mixed breed dogs than ‘purebred’ ones in need of help. Er – where was I…. Oh, yeah… Since this blog is more about dogs, I’m focusing on the dog element of the books I tell you about.

Elizabeth has actually read this book and others in the series, and she says it’s really good. She says, too, that it is a nice book for people who like an old-fashioned sort of mystery story without a lot of violence, swearing and other material that some two-leggers find offensive written into it. It’s just a good story about a female two-legger who loves dogs and needs their help to solve some deadly serious problems she keeps getting into (Samson, I’m sure, does his best to keep two-leggers safe, but you know how two-leggers are…).

I think you’ll like this book. If you’re interested in buying it to support my hard-working heroes at It’s a Dog’s Life help Kenora’s dogs in jeopardy, please click the picture and buy it at Elizabeth’s web site. She’ll make sure my 20% commission gets to my friends!

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