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Black vultures (Coragyps atratus) are not that common in West Virginia. The turkey vulture (Cathartes aura) is much more common.  The way you tell them apart is that turkey vultures have a longer wingspan and all the flight feathers are light-colored. Only the flight feathers towards the tip are light-colored on black vultures.

I came across a flock of four black vultures that were cruising in the sky with a single turkey vulture, and then I realized I hadn’t photographed this species before. So took a few photographs.

So here are my first photos of a black vulture. They aren’t the best photos, but they are pretty cool to me.

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What is Gobi?

This little dog was discovered in the Gobi desert in China on 155-mile race.

The thinking that this dog is a “chihuahua cross” is a bit wrong, I think. I think she’s something a bit more special than that.

I think she is a landrace East Asian toy dog, the ancestral form that leads to the Pekingese, the original pug, the Japanese chin, and other dogs of this type.

I don’t there are many chihuahuas in the Gobi Desert, and she certainly should have her DNA tested.

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Domestication goes on

In my lifetime, I’ve seen African pygmy hedgehogs for sale as exotic pets.

I now see them bred in fancy color varieties.

We’ve bred so many interesting and often strange forms of domestic animals, but now we’re breeding hedgehogs like we do rats or sheep.

As a North American, hedgehogs are as exotic to me as kangaroos.

But people keep them as pets.

I don’t mind it at all.

Domestication goes on.  Maybe we’ll have new varieties of fennec foxes.

Or kinkajous.

Our fascination with nature pushes us into these directions. Our love for novelty and oddity takes us down many rabbit holes.

But domestication requires refining the oddity, distilling it into a strain.

And that’s where this all ends up.

 

 

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Due to my more liberal moderating of my Facebook group, I have had a severe infestation of trolls, coming from a group appropriately called “The Dog Snob Rejects.”

Because I cannot ferret out who is doing screen shots to that harpie-filled den of soulless fockin’ eejits, and drama queens I am deleting the current Facebook page for this blog on Saturday, and I will revive it with a more selective group.

I’m sorry for any convenience this might cause.

Also, Facebook needs a better system to report harassment and bullying.

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Ivy was having fun with the family (including Cammie the Jack Russell) in Western Maryland this weekend:

ivy and cammie deep creek

loch ness ivy

ivy deep creek

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Patreon revamp and Red Bubble

I am revamping my Patreon rewards, and I have opened up my own Red Bubble account.

These are great ways to support my work here, but if you would like to do a one time donation there is always Paypal.

Thank you for reading, and thank you all for any support you can give to my work.

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Meeting a whippet

 

zoom whippet

My experience with sighthounds is limited.  There really isn’t much of a culture of them in my part of the country, except that we do have greyhound racing.

But I spent last week helping a friend of mine move from Florida to Ohio, and among the creatures I spent time with during this adventure was a whippet named Zoom.

The extent of my knowledge on whippets goes as follows:

They are extensively used for racing in parts of Northern England, and I associate them heavily with the actor Robert Hardy. Most people associate him with Cornelius Fudge from the Harry Potter series, but to me he will always be Siegfried Farnon, the senior partner of James Herriot’s semi-fictional Yorkshire veterinary practice. Hardy’s character was always wearing a green cap and walking with a whippet. I did not know when I saw the series that the whippet in the series was actually Hardy’s own personal dog named Christie.

I’ve see footage whippets assisting in ferreting, catching runaways that bolted from the warrens and didn’t get caught in the nets, and I’ve seen footage of them ratting like terriers.

And that’s what I knew about whippets.

I didn’t know exactly what devoted creatures they are.  Zoom has one concern in life, and that concern is the well-being of his human. If she is sad, he trying to make her feel better. If she is happy, he is charming and playful.

These dogs have very small “circles of trust.” They just don’t run off with anyone, but within just a few days, Zoom included me in his circle. He even slept with me a few nights, and when I went into a Walmart alone and he and his human were forced to wait on me, he kept examining every male human coming out of the store.

The only other dogs I’ve been around that have this sort of devotion are terriers and dachshunds, but unlike those breeds, he’s totally docile. He does not snap at strangers. He doesn’t enjoy a good fight with another dog.

He’s a just a devoted English country squire of a dog, a special creature, always thinking and feeling. He is a sort of quiet intellectual that gives his devotion to few, but once he has given it, he is truly a truly friend.

He stands like a fine piece of art, which he can fold into the cushions and the background, but then he can launch those muscles into a speed approaching 30 miles per hour.

He is truly a special being.

He’s certainly won me over.

I now know the whippet, and I can see why Robert Hardy loved them so.

 

 

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