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Life with Misty and Fred

If you thought babies grow fast, you have never watched a puppy. When we got Misty she was 13 pounds (5.8 kilos). By her second vet check she was 23 pounds (10.4 kilos) and on her latest vet check she hit 33 pounds. (15 kilos). She has had all three rounds of puppy shots and her rabies vaccine. She has her own tag and last visit she got a microchip. She turned 4 months old on September 2. Fred by contrast is 88 pounds (40 kilos) he turns 12 on September 20. Almost every day Misty has grown bigger. She eats about four cups of puppy food each day but she has hungry days where she will pack in as much as seven or eight cups. We are feeding her the highest quality puppy food and I must admit I will be glad, for the sake of our budget, when we can switch her to adult dog food. Hubby Dearest makes many jokes about Clifford. She has begun losing those needle sharp puppy teeth (thank goodness!) and clean large new white adult teeth are coming in fast and furious.

Clifford

Our vet surprised me by recommending we do not spay Misty at six months. Given her parental breed types and their bigger but slower growth, he recommended we wait until she is at least a year old. This will give her bones time to fully develop and growth plates to close before cutting off her estrogen supply. Given her breed and size she probably will not have a heat in that first year. We had a discussion about handling an early heat if she does, and preventing pups, as well as the pros and cons of letting her have one heat cycle before spaying her. Apparently you trade one set of risks for another but overall it is better to wait because her breed types (given both her parental breeds) are prone to hip issues and tears in ligaments in the knees and early spaying and neutering seems to increase those events. There are cancer risks decreased by early spaying but there are also different cancer risks increased by early spaying. There isn’t really a right or wrong answer. As always, it is about weighing risk versus benefit so we will revisit the issue at her next check up at one year. I always thought spaying at six months was the absolute normal standard but times are a changing and apparently the thinking on this is changing as well.

Misty is a delightful dog and we feel very blessed to have her. She is still a puppy and as such is subject to those bursts of bad puppy behaviour that result from overwhelming exuberance with life and the itch of new teeth. Even so she had learned several commands including “off”, “off cat” (for small animals including our cat), “come”, “sit”, “lie down”, “shake paw”, “quiet”, “out”, “truck” (go to the truck so we can drive somewhere) and of course her favourite “walk”. She will fetch if prodded but it is not her favourite game. Balls, however, well balls are joy. She has also acquired a lot of the manners essential for successful living with humans. She has a pretty solid grasp of the idea that most things in the house are not hers to chew and some things are. We have had very little trouble of late with her chewing things she is not supposed to have. Constantly rescuing objects from her and substituting toys and an abundance of bones and chew things has helped a lot. The puppy mouthiness improves daily.

Walks are the highlight of Misty’s day, no surprise there. She minds very well on the leash and can now heel on command. She is also pretty trustworthy off leash. We leave her off leash for part of almost every walk now and she stays close by but also thoroughly enjoys the opportunity to run flat out. We take her into our back unfenced yard when we work and she stays in the yard and runs herself to exhaustion in great fast circles.

Misty also loves swimming. We were going to the beach on a regular basis while the weather was warm and it took little urging for her to start swimming eagerly and freely. She has big webbed feet, a legacy of her Golden Retriever mother and those make for great paddles.

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One of the pleasant surprise bonus of her temperament is she is what my husband calls “a contemplative dog”. She likes to spend a lot of quiet time just watching the world go by outside, taking it all, watching everything with great interest but quietly. Fred suffers from such severe separation anxiety that he simply will not sit quietly outside. If we are not with him, he wants in right away. A dog who seems to enjoy sitting outside is a real pleasure. I have known a few German Shepherds who like contemplating the great outdoors so I will give her father credit for that. She daily develops more bridling the most recent being new shoulder brindle marks. Genetically she is a “trindle” i.e. a tricolour dog with brindle as her second colour. That is obviously from her father as well. Her ears are still going between up and down. In these picture they are down but when she is alert and attentive outdoors they stand up like a German Shepherd’s. I think Golden Retriever will win on that account long term though. The older she gets, the more the ears spend time down.

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Misty will sleep anywhere but given a choice she takes the big comfy dog bed or she sleeps at our feet. At night she will sneak into our room so she can sleep at the foot of our bed or on my side on the floor near me.

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Today a proper new big steel kennel arrived for our girl. It is currently large enough for both dogs in a pinch. Fred already has his own big kennel. We learned early how important it is for each dog to have a sturdy steel kennel. Many hotels, shelters and home owners who otherwise will not tolerate dogs, are happy to accommodate them if they have a proper steel kennel. After Irma and Harvey the necessity for each animal to have a proper kennel is even more obvious.

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Another thing that is different about Misty is she is clearly my dog. All the other dogs in our life regard me as a useful pack member but Hubby Dearest is clearly the Lord and Master of the Universe. For some unknown reason of dog brain functioning, Misty seems to have concluded Fred may be the big guy’s dog but she is MY dog. This is not to say she doesn’t like my husband, especially at mealtime because he is in charge of food, but if he gives her a command, she will look to me to reinforce him before obeying. If I get up in the night to use the washroom, Misty always gets up and follows me. She doesn’t follow him. Where I go, she always tries to follow. I must admit after 25+ years of playing second fiddle master, it is very nice to have my own dog at long last.

Misty is an easy going puppy. You expect all kind of trouble with puppies. She still forgets her manners and jumps all over me on occasion. She still will give a puppy nip and then be all contrite when scolded for it. But I see improvement every day. She is also endlessly and totally loving. When she runs on our walks she careens off exploring the world and then runs back for a reassuring pat and some praise. Then she is off again. It has been fun seeing the world through puppy eyes again. It is a marvellous wonderful place. Still, I am looking forward to the day we get past puppy antics and I have a quiet well behaved adult companion. Each day I see that adult dog a little more and the EF5/Category 5 puppy little less.

 

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Migration Home – First Stop Miller’s Ferry Campground Alabama

Our first trip after leaving our Florida stop in Panacea was a rather standard one for us of about 300 miles (500km). We traveled 289 miles (465km). We avoided big cities and interstates as much as possible. It was tempting to stop in at the Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna Fl as we had such a great time there before. However we were still planning on getting to Utah at this part of our trip. We wanted to get some mileage under out tires so we left Marianna without stopping. We made only one stop at the Walmart outside Mariana to stock up on some groceries. We planned on stopping two days at an Army Corp of Engineers campsite which we assumed have very limited shopping opportunities.

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We arrived just before 6:00 and tired and ready to stop. We were grateful that the nice lady at the office agreed to wait while we found a nice campsite. We had only enough energy to unpack and settle in. We walked the dogs and got lost in the dark. We fell into bed early. We have no pictures to show since we were too busy unwinding to care about documenting anything.

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The next day we awoke to the sight of a huge eagle sitting in the tree right outside our campsite. What a way to start the day. Drinking coffee with an eagle perched right nearby. Later we walked the park again. We decided a bike ride was in order and we ended up at the Sandy Shores Road on the opposite side of the lake. We chatted briefly with some local fishermen at the narrow bridge past the marina. We saw a lot of wildflowers as spring was in full rage here. After a relaxing lunch we did a load of laundry. It was weird having no internet and no TV reception after working hard all winter. So we just relaxed and unwound in a very pleasant fashion.

This is the review of the campsite I posted elsewhere:

This is an exceptionally nice Army Corp of Engineers campsite on a lake produced by a dam. Fishing appeared to be exceptionally good judging by what we saw being pulled in by fellow campers and the huge number of cormorants, pelicans and an eagle perched in a tree near our campsite. The campground is really large and wide with wide paved roads with easy turns and paved pads and drives. There are a variety of sites, pull through and back in, but all of them are huge. You can get sites right on the lake for an additional $2 charge ($1 if you have senior America pass.) The lakeside plots range from ones where you could walk straight out into the water to those raised up on ridges. We took a ridge site as we have a dog who loves to swim and we were warned about gators in these water. Presumably this is why they only allow swimming in designated areas which are closed in winter. This position also gave us an exceptionally lovely view of the sunset over the lake. Showers and laundry were modern and clean. No charge for showers, $1 for both the washer and dryer. There was only one dump site which meant waiting in line on the way out and the campground was half empty while we were here. I was told it fills right up in summer so the line must get very long. There are a couple of very nice children’s playgrounds next to the showers and with campsites right around them. All were full and the playgrounds were busy with happy children and parents watching from their campsite. The campground has a lot of additional services like free life jacket loan service and horseshoes. There is a very nicely designed boat launch. This is an exceptionally lovely campground and we will be back. I’d give it a ten except for the lack of sewer hookups and the line to dump. We camped at Miller’s Ferry Campground COE in a Travel Trailer.

The next morning we got up and left early for Mississippi.

Riding the Tide into a Salt Marsh

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We did something I have wanted to do for a long time. We rode the incoming tide from Levy Bay to the big pool at the intersection of Chattahoochee St in Panacea and Highway 98. There is a channel that winds through marsh grass swamps, sinkholes with springs, and some forested areas. The land is privately owned so you can’t leave the water but you do get to see some forest along the trip. We started at the Levy Bay landing which is a public boat dock. The marsh turns into impassable mud flats at low tide so we arrived one and half hours before high tide. By the time we had the canoe down and everything set up, we had one hour until high tide.

The tide rushes into these narrow channels at a brisk pace. You have to pay careful attention to avoid getting stuck on sandbars or hitting oyster bars. There are also lots of obstacles like fallen trees, remnants of old docks, and debris. Additionally the channel itself has many deep pools over springs where you simply can’t see the bottom in the brownish water. So we rode the tide in. In places it was like mini rapids. Always a strong flowing current, fast moving, to ride. The water is topped with foam, full of all kinds of bits of debris and detritus and full of crab holes along along the muddy banks of the marsh grass. We saw mullet, smaller fish, a string ray in black about 18 inches across the wing tips and many birds, especially egrets, cranes and vultures.

We did not bring our camera. We have used the rice trick (putting the camera in a bag of rice to dry out) once already after a canoe trip. While the camera recovered, the calendar never worked again. My pictures always download marked as having occurred on 2013 date the camera got dunked. It was a good thing we didn’t try to take pictures. Riding the tide in those narrow channels at quite a good clip while avoiding all the potential places to spill was challenging enough. If you look at the satellite picture you can see near the end of the route one very large and very deep pool. It was a real pleasure to come charging in there at top speed and find ourselves in this huge relatively calm place. The volume of water there is so deep even the incoming tide makes only a small impression. Though the water was clear we could not see the bottom making me wonder if maybe there is a smaller version of the Wakulla springs in the deepest place.

We rested a bit and then took the final small channel to the egret pond next to the highway. That was our goal. We see that pool every time we drive to the beach and I really wanted to find out why it always has at least three white egrets in it. We arrived at top speed out of the channel to find ourselves on a flat mud basin. The egrets were intently feeding and barely looked up, as if canoes with humans arrive here all the time. They had certainly had no need to worry since we were firmly grounded on smelly mud.

We unstuck ourselves with much heave ho-ing and worked our way back up the channel to the deep pool. The tide was already ebbing. By the time we crossed the deep pool the rush of water had ended so we leisurely wended our way across the pool and then back up the channel. As we arrived in sight of our truck the tide began to turn and run back out. We rode the reversed current the last few hundred yards.

Being a prairie girl and not accustomed to the ocean, the tide fascinates me. The marsh breathes the water in and then breathes it out. The grass and creatures that live on the shore line have adapted to thrive in the rhythmic rise and fall. The marsh’s rich detritus is carried out of the marsh with the tide and feeds the wildlife at the bottom of the food chain. Farther and farther up the food chain, larger and larger creatures wait at the mouths of the channel and then at the mouths of the bay ready to eat. The marsh is the food source of many creatures in the bay.

The marsh also serves as a nursery for much of the sea life. Many fish swim into the bays and lay eggs and then swim out. The fry hatch and grow in the shelter of the marsh, feeding on insects and the like until they are finally big enough to ride the tide out. The endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles feast on blue crab in the bay for two years or so before continuing their slow migration back around the gulf to their breeding places. The mud flats, like the final place where we saw all those egrets, is its own feasting place for these and many other glorious birds..

One of the unfortunate things that has happened in Florida is that many of these nurseries and feeding places have been filled, levelled and now have shopping malls and hotels and houses. Wakulla has been blessed with acres and acres and acres of coastal wetlands that protect and nourish the Gulf. There is a tale of this area that says a very rich woman once asked naturalist and writer Jack Rudloe how to best help sea horses. He told her protect the marshes on the coast because the marshes feed the reefs just off shore where the sea horses live. And so she bought six miles of coastland marsh and she does nothing with it except protect it in order to protect the sea horses.

The world needs more such wise women.

Trump derangement syndrome strikes again.

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Trump derangement syndrome strikes again. Dick’s cousin sent a long diatribe about some swastikas and Nazi symbols on a New York subway. Disgusting stuff yes, but obviously amateurish, written in felt pen. (Other subway riders promptly removed the stuff with hand sanitizer, hurrah for them.) The message from the cousin blamed the event on President Trump and demanded we immediately repudiate President Trump and join him to rise up against President Trump before we all end up in gas chambers.

I replied that, where such statistics are kept, such blatant acts of Jew hate are overwhelming done by radical Islamic extremists. The Democratic Party has among their consideration for leadership, a person whom experts on the topic say has a lot of ties to radical Islamic extremists. Maybe he should look at his own party if he is worried about gas chambers for Jews.

My husband told him President Trump could not have written that graffiti because someone would have seen him do it and President Trump would have signed his own work. He then added that President Trump had more Jewish grandchildren that both of them combined so gas chambers for Jews are highly unlikely under his presidency.

The cousin replied that he should tell us to just f*ck off but since Dick is a relative he would be polite. He then devolved into a diatribe about how crazy we are, followed by many more far less flattering descriptives. This  included implying we are abnormal by sending us copies of email messages calling for the ousting of President Trump sent to him from his buddies under the title of “This how normal people react.” Then he said we are never, ever to contact him again. He finished by citing stuff from the group he is in that is going to ‘rise up’ against hate and overthrow President Trump and take back the USA . (Apparently he did not see any irony in claiming he is against hate while directing so much hate at us himself. Like these folks.)

People like this are, quite simply, f*cking deranged nutcase loons. Thank goodness this cousin is also a strong advocate of gun control. He boasts about not owning one and he lives in New York, far away from us. I shudder to think what such a hate filled angry person could to us do if he owned a gun and lived nearby.

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I disagree with just about everything Noam Chomsky says and stands for but I agree with him on this point about free speech.

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And that makes the fourth relative that has cut us off. Love Trumps Hate indeed. Just goes to prove that old adage about how you can pick your friends but not your relatives.

And by the way, just in case some deranged nutcase loons are thinking of showing me some of their version of love, I do not believe in gun control for law abiding citizens, like me.

Lil Girl Released to the Sea.

Another post about turtles.

Embryogenesis Explained

Yesterday we attended the hatching of a loggerhead sea turtle named Lil Girl. Lil Girl had been a resident of Gulf Specimen Marine Lab since she failed as a test subject on a turtle exclusion device. She was one of several hatchlings who were taken from Florida, transferred to Galveston Texas where she was raised by NOAA until she was the perfect age and size to stand in as a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle in experiments on mandatory equipment used by shrimp fishermen that allow turtles to be excluded instead of drowned.

Turtle exclusion devices are, in my opinion, the very best of humanity in action. Instead of simply railing at evil of humans who accidentally kill turtles as by-catch a constructive solution was researched, developed and then tested. The problem is solved in a rational and practical way that still allows humans to eat shrimp. This wonderful and incredibly…

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