July 27, 2015

Four-legged Forager

Suillus americanus (Wikimedia Commons).
July rains brought a brief flush of Slippery Jack mushrooms (Suillus americanus) near the house. We don't see them every year; it takes wet weather to bring out the mushrooms in this ponderosa pine-Douglas fir-Gambel oak environment.

 I collected a few on morning dog walks for drying— they turn wormy very quickly, and many that look good are not. The flavor is OK, nothing special, but they are mushrooms and picking them fulfills the Hunting and Gathering Imperative.

But someone was watching.

Twice this morning Fisher the dog darted into the oak brush and started munching. He was after the mushrooms — and he does not care if they are dessicated and/or wormy. (We have to keep him away from screens of drying mushrooms at home.)

So this is another one of those dog-behavior conundrums. Does he like mushrooms naturally, or does he like them because they are People Food and hence higher-status than Dog Food?

M. says that he is a dog out of place (but then she says that a lot). If we had truffles, he could have easily been trained to find them.

Given his love for finding dead stuff in the woods, he could have been an outstanding corpse-searching dog too.


Moma Fauna said...

"The flavor is OK, nothing special, but they are mushrooms and picking them fulfills the Hunting and Gathering Imperative." Isn't this just the Truth?

As for Fisher -- I don't think he is the only one. My dad has had serious concerns that Chinle, their dog, may have died from complications due to mushroom poisoning. She was totally into them & it wasn't because they are "people food" since my dad is something of a mycophobe. She never saw people harvest them as far as I know.

NAMA toxicologists, better keep these guys close by: http://www.namyco.org/mushroom_poisonings_in_dogs_an.php As mentioned in the paper, some dogs develop a liking for some of the nasty fungi.

Stranger still, I was on a local plant foray a week or so ago & a woman in the group said her (young) cats were eating mushrooms in her yard. This seemed to be more closely associated with her interest in the mushrooms, however. So perhaps for the cats, "people food" may be more accurate.

Keep an eye on that guy.

And thanks for the mushroom porn. Helps me through this painfully protracted waiting period.

mdmnm said...

Aren't there truffles in the doug fir/spruce duff? With Fisher's talents, it might be worth exploring!