Archive for August, 2013

I think this one is a hen. Oscar’s the one with the plumage in transition and the drake voice:



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A few days ago, Miley decided to break the rules and try to catch a duck.

It was one of those rainy  days, and I thought she was just going to chase them a bit.

But I was wrong. She scattered them in all directions, and she ran the white Pekin drake onto the access road below the pond. She quickly had him run down was just about to put him in her mouth when I was able to call her off.

I noticed that one of the ducks– the pure wild mallard hen– had flown off and had actually gone quite high. I didn’t see where she landed.

I figured she’d work her way back to the pond that day, but she did not.  My parents looked for her that evening, but they saw no trace of her.

I took Miley out, and she wound up questing around in a stand of small pine trees. She was after something.

It was only later that evening that she went out on her own and came back with something.

She brought the hen mallard home without a mark on her.

I’ve always thought of Miley as a half-assed retriever. She’s not a working-bred dog, but she has a very soft mouth. I call her the “golden take it,” because instead of retrieving, she will take something and hide it from you.

She does like to duck chase and has to be scolded off them if she gets too close on them. She killed a duckling earlier this summers, so she does have to be watched when she’s around them.

But in that moment, she redeemed herself.

She may have been nothing more than a duck chasing “yeller dog,” but now she’s the duck shepherd.

If one wanders off now, I’m pretty sure she’ll be called into find it.



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One of the mom’s ducklings is undergoing a transformation. This is the one dad calls Oscar:




Just a few weeks ago, he looked like this:


And as a duckling, he looked like this:


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Golden retrievers can pout. Oh my:


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Kentucky wolf

(Not the guy who killed it)

A wolf was killed in Hart County, Kentucky, this past March. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources released this statement:

Federal officials recently confirmed that an animal taken by a hunter near Munfordville in Hart County on March 16 is a gray wolf.

A DNA analysis performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Wildlife Research Center in Colorado determined the 73-pound animal was a federally endangered gray wolf with a genetic makeup resembling wolves native to the Great Lakes Region. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Oregon confirmed the finding.

How the wolf found its way to a Munfordville hay ridge at daybreak in March remains a mystery. Wolves have been gone from the state since the mid-1800s.

Great Lakes Region wolf biologists said the animal’s dental characteristics – a large amount of plaque on its teeth – suggest it may have spent some time in captivity. A largely carnivorous diet requiring the crushing of bone as they eat produces much less plaque on the teeth of wild wolves.

Hart County resident James Troyer took the animal with a shot from 100 yards away while predator hunting on his family’s farm. Troyer, 31, said he had taken a coyote off the property just two weeks earlier.

But when he approached the downed animal he noticed it was much larger. “I was like – wow – that thing was big!” he recalled. “It looked like a wolf, but who is going to believe I shot a wolf?”

Because a free-ranging wolf has not been seen in the state for more than a century, biologists were skeptical at first. However, wildlife officials were aware that a few radio-collared northern wolves have wandered as far south as Missouri in the past decade.

Wolves resemble coyotes, except they are much larger. From a distance, the size difference is difficult to determine.

Troyer convinced Kevin Raymond, a wildlife biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, to look at the animal. Once Raymond saw the animal was twice the size of a coyote, he contacted furbearer biologist Laura Patton, who submitted samples to federal officials for DNA testing.

Because state and federal laws prohibit the possession, importation into Kentucky or hunting of gray wolves, federal officials took possession of the pelt. Since this is the first free-ranging gray wolf documented in Kentucky’s modern history, federal or state charges are not expected because there were no prior biological expectations for any hunter to encounter a wolf.

This animal may have been introduced by someone who had a pet wolf and got tired of it.

Or it could have walked from Great Lakes population into Kentucky.  There was a wolf from this population that was killed in Missouri last year that clearly wandered down on its own volition. And another one was killed in the same state in 2010.

It is interesting that all three of these wolves would be Great Lakes wolves. That population is actually the healthiest population in the Lower 48, and they clearly are moving south.

My question is why are none of these animals reported in places like Illinois, Iowa, or Indiana, which lie between the core wolf habitat states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Kentucky and Missouri?

If they are dispersing this far south someone has to be seeing them in those states, too, but I never hear of anyone shooting a big coyote that turns out to be a wolf in any of those states.

So it’s an interesting question if this wolf came to Kentucky on its own.

But someday, there will be wolves in Kentucky. There will be no argument about where they came from.

The wolf is one species that is very likely to thrive in the twenty-first century, provided we don’t lose our minds and start trying to exterminate them again.

And that’s the big if.

But if we just leave them alone, they will return.

They are doing so in Germany and much of Western Europe right now.

It will just take some time.

And restraint.


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The Obamas got a new Portuguese water dog! This is Sunny:



Bo (with the white markings) and Sunny:

bo and sunny

Yeah. I’m a Democrat.

Yeah. I like dogs.

No need to get political.

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A rainbow

One of the advantages of the rain is that you sometimes get rainbows:


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