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

Posts tagged ‘walks’

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Spring has arrived on the Campbell Estate.

There are pros and cons to Spring.

Pros:

  • The river has turned to splashy wet stuff again.
  • My goose friends have returned.
  • A whole lot of birds are singing to me every morning.
  • Elizabeth is going for longer walks with me again.

Cons:

  • It’s getting a bit warm for big woolly dogs like me.
  • The wood ticks are out. They really suck.
  • I need to be extra vigilant because the bears have awakened.
  • There’s a bandit [a Raccoon] raiding the bird feeders and pooping on our deck at night.

I was in swimming even before the river had gone completely splashy this year. I was trying to perform a rescue. I was patrolling ahead of Elizabeth on a walk we took through the forest to our point. When I got to the shore, I heard something breathing oddly. It was in the water, and after a moment or two of looking, I saw its head as it swam along the line of the hard water. The wake it made caused the hard surface, which had formed into fingers in the melting process, to tinkle like the tags on my collar do when I run.

I stepped into the water. It was cold. Even for me, it was cold. I decided that little creature better come out and warm up, so, I barked at it, “Come to shore and warm up! Too cold! Too Cold!

I was too late. It suddenly turned nose down, bottoms up, its broad tail hitting the wet splashy stuff hard as it went out of sight.

I went into emergency mode and leapt out into the frigid river. It’s my Newfy heritage – I can’t help it. I swam out to where I saw it go under and circled. I couldn’t find him.

A couple of minutes later, I saw his nose break the surface. Still alive! I turned for him, but he went down again.

Elizabeth showed up and told me to get out of the water. She was right. I needed to warm up a bit. It was really cold. I climbed out onto the rocks and gave myself a good shake, then I looked at her, pointed at the river with my nose and whined. She’s not much use at cold water rescue but you never know when she might come up with a good idea. Sometimes she surprises me.

“It’s okay, Stella. That’s a beaver. I heard it slap its tail at you. He’s fine.”

And then he came up again!

I plunged back in. No one is better than I at cold water. If I’m freezing to death, then so is that broad-tailed water slapper! I won’t let it happen!

I swam around and around and around again. This time he was gone for good, poor thing. I did my best, really I did. If they’d just relax and let me help, I could save them. I know I could.

We don't have a picture of a real broad-tailed water slapper, but we do have this puppet at the shop. This is exactly what they look like when they are on land. But they spend most of their time in the splashy wet stuff. They eat trees. Really.

We don’t have a picture of a real broad-tailed water slapper, but we do have this puppet at the shop. This is exactly what they look like when they are on land. But they spend most of their time in the splashy wet stuff. They cut down big trees with their teeth and eat the bark. Really.

I was feeling pretty sad about the incident. And I was pretty cold, too. I came over to Elizabeth, shook off and let her feel just how cold the water was. I really could have used a cuddle at that point.

Sometimes Elizabeth doesn’t read me that well. She turned back to the woods and resumed her hunt for deer sheds. She wanted some for making displays at the bookshop.

Two-leggers are strange – there are hundreds of dead branches she could just pick up and take home, but no, she must have only the rare branches that fall from sneaky dear heads during the winter. There were no deer around with branches on their heads that day. I know because I then ran everywhere I could find them and checked. Just branchless deer.All that running helped me to warm up, though, so it’s all good!

We didn’t find any of the sheds on the ground, either. Fortunately, Elizabeth had some in reserve that she could use. She’s busy cleaning them up and oiling them now.

Oh, look! She's got one up now. She thought they'd make a good displayer for the new puppets and First Nations jewellery she's selling at the shop.

Oh, look! She’s got one up. She thought they’d be good for showing off the new puppets and First Nations jewellery she’s selling at the shop.

UFOs & Aliens?

I guess all of you my faithful readers have been wondering if I was abducted by aliens, eh?

Well… No. But I had a close encounter yesterday!

We were just heading off for our early morning walk. I reached the end of the wooden path when I noticed something very peculiar:

Could they be Crop Circles?

Could they be Crop Circles?

As a Bookshop Dog, I have developed a very open and scientific mind. I’ve heard about this phenomenon two-leggers call ‘Crop Circles’. The theory is that these things are made by alien spacecraft when they land or take off. Elizabeth knows a lady who says she knows the people who made the original Crop Circles in Britain, though, and that the whole alien thing is a hoax. I decided to see who was right. I took a closer look at one.

Certainly looks like something was spinning here...

Certainly looks like something was spinning here…

As a dog, I have an advantage over two-leggers. I have a sensitive and highly developed olfactory system. I have a nose for detection. And I detected a new-to-me but definitely animal scent trail. Well. I guess that technically, Aliens are probably animals too. Only one thing to do… follow my nose to the source.

I nearly bumped into this:

Yikes! It looks like a Stegosaurus tail!

Yikes! It looks like a Stegosaurus tail!

I checked it out from another angle.

Look at those claws!

Look at those claws!

But when I backed up and got some perspective, it turned out to be

the rear end of a Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)!

the rear end of a Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)!

The Snapping Turtle is the largest of Ontario turtles and can live up to 70 two-legger years or more. I can’t imagine living that long! They are not endangered, but they are on the watch list. They have a low reproductive rate and take a long time to mature. And two-leggers, well, some of them, like to hunt and eat them. Or just to kill them because they think they are mean old ugly things.

Once Elizabeth was invited to have some by one of the lake people she knew. She almost tried some, but when the old man mentioned that he kept them in his freezer and that they took an awfully long time to die, she just couldn’t accept any. She doesn’t really like these turtles, but they fascinate her.

This one fascinated me, too.

Snapping Turtle 1 miniI felt I had to examine it from all angles.

Snapping Turtle 3 miniAlthough she looks shy in Elizabeth’s photographs, she wasn’t really. This is a very aggressive stance, as I found out.

See how her rear end is slightly elevated?

See how her rear end is slightly elevated?

This female had made the trek up from our bay to find a place to lay her eggs. She needed to get the job done, and I guess she thought I was trying to interfere. Suddenly, she reared up on her hind legs and tail, and her head shot forward at me! She tried to snap my nose off!

Fortunately, I didn’t know her, so I was being a bit cagey myself. I managed to avoid her lunge. I thought it was very rude of her, and I began to move in to teach her a lesson. One does not snap at the Queen of the Boreal Forest without suffering the consequences!

Elizabeth grabbed my collar and took me for a little walk. I’m still ticked off with her. She shouldn’t interfere with me when I’m on the job. This was obviously a very dangerous turtle. It needed first to be taught a lesson and, second, to be banished to its watery domain.

When we got back from our walk, she was just about the same place. Elizabeth didn’t notice until she was looking at the photos today that it appears to be blood on the right side of her carapace. While I don’t condone her behaviour, neither do I wish her any harm. I hope she makes it through laying her eggs and back through the forest, down the hill and into the river again.

She does have rather lovely little eyes...

She does have rather lovely little eyes…

Elizabeth put me in the house and then went out to talk to the turtle and get some more pictures of her. By the time we had to leave for Church, the turtle seemed much more relaxed.

This is the only one Elizabeth took with her telephoto lens. The turtle didn't snap at her when she got her camera in close for the facial portraits! Hmmph.

This is the only one Elizabeth took with her telephoto lens. The turtle didn’t snap at her when she got her camera in close for the facial portraits! Hmmph.

When we got home, the Snapping Turtle had continued her uphill quest in search of sandy soil deep enough for her to make a nest for her eggs and cover them in such a way that no one would ever guess they were there. Maybe I will meet some of the baby turtles after they hatch and begin their journey down the hill to the bay….

Fungal Friday 5

Yesterday morning, on our way home from a very interesting walk (we made a new friend!), we were quite surprised to stumble across a Nuclear Power Facility for Ants!

I figure that if Ants have the technology to build huge (relatively speaking) cities underground, then they somehow need to produce energy to fuel them, right?

I figure that if Ants have the technology to build huge (relatively speaking) underground cities, then they somehow need to produce energy to fuel them, right?

I was a bit nervous about giving the structures a sniff, but Elizabeth explained that there was nothing radioactive about them. These are a type of mushroom commonly called ‘Puffballs’. Some two-leggers actually eat them!

According to our research, puffballs are only edible when they are in the immature stage, like this one.

According to our research, puffballs are only edible when they are in the immature stage, like this one.

We aren’t going to try them out this year. Elizabeth wants to learn more about them first.

When this particular species matures (we haven’t identified it properly yet because Elizabeth is too busy getting the garden in to do all the look-ups. SIGH… Dependable help is so hard to find!), it turns to a brownish-grey colour and develops a little hole in the top.

The spores are all inside the mature puffball. The hole allows the spores to escape and scatter whenever pressure is applied to the puffball surface. Poof! Like magic! BOL

The spores – what mushrooms have instead of seeds – are all inside the mature puffball. The hole allows the spores to escape and scatter whenever pressure is applied to the puffball surface. Poof! Like magic! BOL

Elizabeth told me that when she and her brother were two-legger puppies, they would stomp on mature puffballs to release a cloud of spores. She says you have to do it just right, otherwise you just squish the globe. The sport of puffball stomping. Who knew? I would try it myself, but I’m afraid I’ll just end up having a sneezing fit. My nose is a lot closer to the ground than theirs were even back then!

We are finding other weird and wonderful members of the fungi tribe on our woodland walks, too. They seem to like the cool, moist weather we’ve been having. We took some photos for you…

The first ones we found on our Sunday walk were quite strange. I didn’t even see them until Elizabeth noticed a bunch that I had knocked over while I trotted through a patch of Sphagnum Moss. The yellow colour caught her eye.

We think this is Clavulinopsis laeticolor. These are really small - the largest just two or three cm in height.

We think this is Clavulinopsis laeticolor. These are really small – the largest just two or three cm in height.

They were so odd looking that she took a few more photos:

Clavulinopsis laeticolor

Clavulinopsis laeticolor 2

Feeling that we needed to be a bit more scientific with our photos, I thought I’d leave a strand of my wool in the foreground for perspective.

Then we found some little white ones nearby. The things you begin to see when you start observing the forest floor!

Don't they look like a family heading out for a picnic on a Sunday afternoon? These were even smaller than the yellow ones!

Don’t they look like a family heading out for a picnic on a Sunday afternoon? These were even smaller than the yellow ones!

This slightly larger type looks thirsty to me. I think we’ve seen some larger mushrooms similar to this on other excursions.

I wish Elizabeth knew her mushrooms better. She says one day she'll start making a study of them...

I wish Elizabeth knew her mushrooms better. She says one day she’ll start making a study of them… For now, she just enjoys looking.

We will leave you with this pretty group:

These much larger mushrooms reminded Elizabeth of whirling dervishes. What on earth is a whirling dervish?  ~:o/=

These much larger mushrooms reminded Elizabeth of whirling dervishes. What on earth is a whirling dervish? ~:o/=

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