Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Fisher. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Fisher. Sort by date Show all posts

January 10, 2012

Fisher and the Dog Psychic

Fisher
It started with my friend D., a man nearing retirement age who hikes a lot, and who has a large white fluffy dog, one of the boreal breeds.

This dog had a tendency to wander off a lot, and she seemed uninterested in playing. He could not figure her out.

A co-worker told him of a animal psychic, someone who claimed to be able to put questions to an animal, who could be anywhere — she works from a photo. So D. asked the psychic to ask the dog, "What would you like to do to play?" The response:
She indicated that "play" is beneath her because she has a purpose.  She showed me an image of you throwing a blue ball and her just standing and staring at you.  I think this was to reinforce that she had no interest in playing "fetch".  I tried several times during the conversation to ask her about what she would enjoy doing in her spare time and she didn't offer anything.  . . .
She said her purpose in this life and her ongoing work is being a "tracker".  She tracks spirits (human) that are here needing guidance to help them cross over.  She helps them get to where they need to be to cross over, or to get answers to questions so they can be at peace and cross over.   She feels/knows when she is needed and is able to find her way to them.  I asked what most spirits need or want in order to cross over and she indicated that most just need to see someone still living and know that they are okay.  That is why she is gone long periods sometimes because it takes time to guide the spirit to the person.  
I was really curious about her role, so I asked whether other animals have this job.  She indicated that lots of animals are trackers, but they don't take it seriously and will not give full effort to the spirits.  She does take it seriously though which is why she stays out at night and won't come back when you let her off leash. 
What a conversation starter: "My dog is a psychopomp. No, that's not a crazy breed. She walks with dead people."


I decided to ask her about Fisher, our 4-year-old "rescue" Chesapeake Bay retriever.
So I asked him if Fisher was his name and he gave me a "yes and no" response.  When I questioned him further, he said it is the name he is called, but that is not his name.  He said his name is Gunter, which he prefers, but he will answer to Fisher.
All I can say is that he reacts to "Fisher" but not to "Gunter." Calling him Gunter, however, is now our way to talk about him without arousing his attention. Maybe Gunter is his name in the Dreaming or something.

I gave her an easy question to ask, "Why are you always so hungry?" (He is a high-energy dog with a fast metabolism and a tendency to be food-aggressive.

This, however, sounds like Fisher:
His response was "ok," but he doesn't think he can resist going after food.  He said, "when there is food, I have to eat it."  I talked with him at some length about food to see if I could get a better understanding of his behavior.  He said he is fed twice a day [true] and that is enough — he isn't hungry, but when he sees or smells food, he can't help himself.  I talked with him about "his" food and "Chas's" food.  Initially, he didn't see a difference (and I've heard this from other animals, they don't get human/animal boundaries - generally all "stuff" belongs to the collective, in their perspective).  His response was "food is food - it's for whoever gets it first."
There was more, but you get the idea. We have worked for two years on him, and he has progressed from "It's OK to eat off the stove" to "If I am caught eating off the stove, I will be put outdoors and must go quietly without growling."

So we spend a lot of time managing his whereabouts in regard to food, be it our food, dog food, garbage, compost, ripe tomatoes in the garden, things dragged in from the woods, etc.

In two years, I would say that he has progressed from Horrible Dog to Horrid Dog and has almost reached Exasperating Dog.

Or maybe I am just defining deviancy down.

July 04, 2009

Fisher and the Mouse Tree


In this photo, Fisher and Chessie is chewing on the trunk of a Gambel oak tree (using the word "tree" generously).

A couple of weeks ago, Shelby, our other dog, who loves to hunt rodents, got real interested in this tree. It does seem to have a mostly hollow trunk with openings at the bottom and up where Fisher is chewing.

Fisher joined in -- and he has not forgotten. Every time our morning walk route takes him past this tree, he chews and whines and wails until he is dragged away.

Later today, I was in the house when I heard M.'s voice in the distance shouting, "Drop it!"

She had taken both dogs on a short walk. Fisher, off-leash, had found a dead bird and picked it up. She worried that the bird might have died of disease -- but all I could think was, "He picked up a real bird! Yes! He's getting it."

And that is this week's progress report on Fisher, who has now been with us for not quite two months.

May 19, 2013

Spring Comes to the Burn

On May 16, M. and I re-visited the burned ridge behind our house for the first time since November. It burned last October 23, part of an extremely fast-moving fire that destroyed 15 homes and various outbuildings in the space of about thirty minutes, reaching a total extent of 2,500 acres
.
Here is the area that we re-visited as it looked at 6:40 p.m., October 23, 2013.
Fisher, our Chesapeake Bay retriever, came too. On the ground behind him you can see scattered clumps of shredded bark, mixed with grass seed and dropped from a helicopter on April 13-14, 2013.

Fisher, not bothered by dirt and ash.
This particular area is public land (Bureau of Land Management), although most of what burned was private.
Attaching a sling-load of mulch and grass seed to a helicopter—April 2013 (Pueblo Chieftain).
Concerned about the possibility of ash and dirt washing down into streams, the BLM paid for re-seeding of its portion, which is mostly along a higher ridge.

Mulch had fallen into the little spring. Fisher decided to clear it out.
The first thing that we always do is visit a little seasonal spring that we call Camera Trap Spring. It is the place where a sow black bear attacked a camera, where Fisher narrowly avoided a rattlesnake last year, and where I have gotten pictures of a variety of wildlife.

Then we went to see if the seeding had had good results.
Grass coming up through the mulch.
This was one of the better-looking patches. And I should add that mulch was used only on the steeper slopes. Other areas received a grass-seed mix with no mulch. Since the seeding a month ago, snow and rain equivalent to 2–3 inches of precipitation has fallen, luckily without serious erosion.Whether this counts as acceptable results in re-seeding, I do not know, although I am attempting to check on that. Some other areas do not look as good.
Dandelion and deer droppings (to left of central rock, top of clear spot).
Here, for instance, is a dandelion and some other plants growing, plus evidence of deer passing through the burn. Some of the new grass had been nibbled too. There were no tracks at the spring, however—if there had been, Fisher probably obliterated them!
Golden banner with 500 ml bottle.
This looks like golden banner (Thermopsis divaricarpa), a member of the pea family. Self-seeded, I assume.

And of course the burnt Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii), which could probably survive atom bombs, is sprouting from its roots. As the CSU Extension office says, "Fire readily kills the above-ground portions of oak brush. However, intense sprouting follows almost immediately and usually causes the stands to become even denser."

Birds seen: some crows, two woodpeckers (probably hairies—did not have a good look), and to our surprise, two Western tanagers (migrants).

November 30, 2012

Under the Volcano (5): Looking for Camera Trap Spring

Now home from our travels, M. and I hiked up yesterday to where a forest fire burned near our house a month ago.

The little bowl on BLM land that I call "Camera Trap Valley"
I call it "Camera Trap Valley" because it contains the little seasonal spring that attracts quite a variety of wildlife. But on the evening of October 23rd it was effectively "nuked."

On the way over the ridge, Fisher, our Chesapeake Bay retriever, came trotting down the trail with something in his mouth. It looked like a bear cub's paw, stripped of flesh. "Was the bear a casualty of the fire?" we wondered. So we bribed him with a dog biscuit to surrender it.

Fisher on the fire line
My trail to the spring is based on a series of game trails, augmented by rock cairns to guide me through the brush and a little discreet pruning to make the going easier for upright bipeds. At one spot, the containment line dug by federal firefighters exactly followed "my" trail. That was useful, for a short distance.

At this point, the fire had been moving against the wind, which is why, I think, that it dropped down to the ground instead of crowning from tree to tree. Then it stopped (mostly) at the rim rock.

Unburned strip of forest floor
In the photo above, a strip of the forest floor was mysteriously spared as the fire passed over it. Fisher, barely visible at the top, has found another bone.

A small cairn.
I made little rock cairns to guide myself through the talus and  oak brush. They are no longer necessary.

Dropping down into the valley, I found that another of my markers, a deer pelvis bone hung on a tree branch — near where we found the mysterious teddy bear — was missing. Completely consumed, no doubt.

A completely burned-out pine stump.
We started seeing signs of the fire's power.

That thing that looks like a dinosaur track is actually a completely burned-out ponderosa pine stump. If you poured plaster of Paris into it, you would have a positive image of the root system. It is eerily like the plaster casts of victims at Pompeii.

Meanwhile, a single crow flew overhead, making the "soft bell-toned woh-woh, woh-woh" sound.

We answered, but what was it telling us?

Camera Trap Spring
All my landmarks gone, I found the spring (dry, of course) by the lay of the land. I will come back in April or early May to see if it is flowing.

Bone-anza.
In the burned forest nearby, Fisher found a more substantial bone to chew. A post-apocalyptic landscape is nothing to a dog.

Turkey track.


There were turkey tracks in the ash and soil. Can't you imagine the third turkey in the group saying, "Guys! There is nothing to eat here! Why are we here? Let's go back, guys."

We walked up through the bowl and returned home by a different route. I cannot think when I have been in an environment so sterilized. Maybe one bird, perhaps a chickadee, flew past us as we walked. Otherwise, M. , Fisher, and I seemed to be the only living beings above ground.

Such silence.

August 01, 2020

Fisher and His Metal Mommy

Fisher, his Kong toy, and his "wire mother" — we call it "metal mommy."
Harry Harlow was an American psychologist of the mid-20th century who permanently damaged many baby rhesus monkeys in order to prove "scientifically" that babies need nurturing mothers.

But maybe his research has something to do with my dog Fisher.

Artificial "cloth mother" and baby rhesus monkey
Baby rhesus monkey with
"cloth mother" (Wikipedia).
Harlow's experiments were controversial; they included creating inanimate surrogate mothers for the rhesus infants from wire and wool. Each infant became attached to its particular mother, recognizing its unique face and preferring it above others. Harlow next chose to investigate if the infants had a preference for bare-wire mothers or cloth-covered mothers. For this experiment, he presented the infants with a clothed "mother" and a wire "mother" under two conditions. In one situation, the wire mother held a bottle with food, and the cloth mother held no food. 

Fisher turned 13 earlier this month, making him officially an elderly dog.  His appetite and digestion are good, sight and hearing OK, but if you watched him hobbble along the trails up behind the house, his age would be apparent — despite all the joint-health supplements and CBD he has ingested over the years.

He was a bouncy 2-year-old when we got him. He had been turned over to the Chesapeake Bay retriever rescue organization, and there were reasons for that. Most, I slowly realized, revolved around fear. Although not outright mistreated, I think he had been alone too much. He can co-exist with another dog, but he has never had a dog-buddy. There was food-agression. There was biting. I won't tell the whole sad story here, but after a year with us — when we thought he was improving — he was ->|  |<- this far from going for a one-way walk with me up onto the national forest.

M. argued to save his life, but he never respected her until she hit him with bear spray one time in the kitchen. He was that kind of dog. The other thing that saved him was Randy Grim's book Don't Dump the Dog: Outrageous Stories and Simple Solutions to Your Worst Dog Behavior Problem. (M's sister-in-law, who is a dog person, had volunteered with author Grim's organization Stray Rescue of St. Louis, and she suggested it.) We followed some of Grim's suggestions rigorously, and they helped. That plus time-in-service.

He mellowed as he aged. His body language softened, although he was never cuddly. But he started doing things like lying by my desk chair, which was new.

But somehow, something was still missing in his life.

July turned extra-hot this year, and I brought up an old box fan from the basement. I positioned it to blow across the study rug where he likes to lie, catching a whisper of breeze between the adjacent bedroom windows and the open front door.

He liked it. He liked it even when room was cool. He not only lay in front of it, but he pressed his body up against the grill. Some mornings after his walk and breakfast, he would come into the study — where I was doing my morning news-read online — lie on the rug, and whine a little. Until I turned it on — then he was content.

That is when I thought of Harry Harlow. It's not the cloth mother, but the wire mother — only this one vibrates? Does it feel like a return to the womb and his mother's heartbeat? And what happens when winter comes? But maybe at this point in his life I should indulge him.

July 07, 2014

All My Flycatchers, Season 10: The "Plop Plop" of Falling Birds


This year's brood of flycatchers, on top of the front porch light.
Is four fledglings too many?

Right now, there is a large pillow — actually an L. L. Bean dog bed — laid under the porch light on the veranda.

Baby Cordilleran flycatchers keep falling out of the nest on top of the porch light, which they built in late May while we were away in Taos, ignoring my purpose-built special flycatcher nesting ledge on the back of the house.

This is an ongoing drama every year: will Lucinda (all females are named Lucinda) successfully incubate her eggs and raise some babies? Some times things go very wrong.

Often four eggs are laid, but only three hatch. Or four chicks are hatched, but one is found dead and dessicated in the nest.

This year, we still have four starting to grow adult feathers. But the nest, built according to whatever evolutionary pattern — and better sized for three — is not big enough. They are starting to fall out.

I was working at my desk Sunday afternoon when I heard M. scream at Fisher, the Chesapeake Bay retriever. "Bad dog!" etc.

But here he is, the product of umpteen generations of bird-dog breeding, catching the breeze just inside the front door, when a bird falls from the sky in front of him. Of course he went for it.

The chick seemed OK, I thought, just a little damp from saliva. So I put it back in the nest. M. put a baby gate in the doorway and moved one of Fisher's outdoor dog beds under the nest.

Thirty minutes later I looked out and there was a chick lying on the dog bed. Back into the nest with it.

Then we ate supper on the veranda, as usual, noting Lucinda's constant trips to the nest to feed the kids with whatever insects she was catching. (Her mate helps too.)

I started to carry the plates inside and, Whoa! "Grab Fisher!" I said. Luckily, he was still sniffing under the dining table for crumbs.

There were two fledglings on the dog bed. Back into the nest they went.

How long is this going to keep up? Do we have to keep Fisher off the veranda, where he is accustomed to lounging during the day between walks and meals?

They can't grow up fast enough for me. Or for Lucinda.

August 21, 2011

Shelby 1, Black Bear 0

Shelby five years ago.
Once our dog Shelby was known as the Bandit Queen, hanging out here and there on the county road with her several canine followers (retrievers and rottweilers).

Now she is about 12 years old (we don't know for sure), and she sleeps a lot. She gets glucosamine tablets in her food, but runs with a stiff sort of rocking-horse gait. Her muzzle is graying.

Yet today she charged a full-grown black bear, and her "victory celebration" afterward suggested that she was sending a message—to somebody.

Shelby, Fisher the Chesapeake, and I started our walk about 8 a.m., up through our property and onto a narrow Forest Service road that runs through a small meadow, pines and Gambel oak on both sides, and a deep gully or ravine on one side parallel to the road.

As usual now that she is 12, Shelby poked along, sniffing things, eating a bit of grass, peeing beside the road. A "sniff walk," as one dog writer called it.

Fisher, by contrast, galloped about 70 yards up the road, came back, turned and galloped off again, just bursting with excess craziness energy. Then I heard an odd "Woof!" from him, a "Woof!" not of challenge but of alarm, a sort of canine "Ohmygod!"

I stepped past some trees and saw him on the far side of the gully, pursued by a bear. He likes to charge down into the deep gully and up the other side, but this time he must have come nose to nose with the bear, who was now chasing him at a half-serious lope.

I called him, "Fisher, come!!" He came out of the gully, the bear paused on the far side, I  kept calling. I had just one leash with me—for Shelby, when she is too pokey. After all, she was just strolling along, sniffing the roadside vegetation, the elderly dog.

She shot past me, full tilt, no creakiness, head down, tail streaming, barking a little. She zipped past Fisher, who seemed momentarily undecided whether to follow her back down into the gully or come to me. Fortunately, he came to me.

The bear turned and ran. Maybe all this yelling and dog action was too much for it. Shelby chased it into the thick oak brush. Visions of mauled dog ...

Then there was the black flag of her tail visible, and she came trotting out into the open, whereupon she squatted with her back to where the bear had gone and "marked," demonstrating with a few drops of urine her opinion of that bear.

(She has been known to pee on the door mats of houses wherein live dogs whom she despises.)

We went home then. Shelby has just lain around the house the rest of the day. The weather is hot, and she has that thick coat from the collie side of her ancestry. (The other side is Labrador retriever, we were told.)

She let us all know: she is still the Bandit Queen.

September 14, 2019

Southern Colorado WIll Get a New State Park

Fisher's Peak Ranch (Nature Conservancy photo).
The sale of a big ranch outside Trinidad, Colo., means that 19,200-acre state park will open soon.
For generations, the 9,633-foot-high Fisher’s Peak has been a big part of both the physical and social landscape for people in Trinidad and other parts of southern Colorado. But it has been off-limits because it was on a large private ranch. . . . .

In December 2018, The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Land signed an agreement with the ranch owner, French Trinidad Co. LLC.  Great Outdoors Colorado said it would contribute $7.5 million and Colorado Parks and Wildlife pledged $7 million toward the $25.4 million purchase price. 
A statement from Colorado Parks and Wildlife reads,
Yesterday, Governor Jared Polis announced that a diverse partnership — including Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the City of Trinidad, The Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy, and Great Outdoors Colorado — is working to make the 30-square-mile Fisher’s Peak ranch, located outside the city of Trinidad, Colorado’s next state park.
Spanning from the New Mexico border north along the east side of I-25 to the south side of Trinidad, the property's iconic peak and diverse landscape of grasslands, forests, rugged mountain and vast meadows are the first thing you see crossing over the state line into Colorado. “It's a true gem,” said Governor Polis.
Until park plans are put in place, the property will remain closed to the public. Project partners are planning guided trips and ways to gather input during the process before the state park is opened.
According to the Denver Post article linked above, the governor said he would like to see the park open in the fall of 2020. Can the bureaucratic wheels turn that fast? Read the full news release from Governor Polis' office.

June 03, 2016

Finding a Fox Den

A blooming cactus from last week, which
has absoutely no connection to this post.
Four days ago I was taking Fisher, the dog, up the little dirt road behind our house — his morning off-leash run in the woods.

A sharp barking came from up the mountainside, and I thought that Melvin, the nearest little dog in the neighborhood, had escaped his yard and was running free.

"No," I realized after a moment, "it's a fox."

Fisher ignored it, but I was curious, so I leashed him and walked up into the area where I had heard the bark. He sniffed the ground a lot.

Two days later, I heard the bark in the same patch of oakbrush, and this time I saw a red fox. She (I am assuming) kept barking until Fisher gave chase.

Typically for him, he gave up after about fifty yards. My old collie-mix dog, Shelby, would have chased that fox until it ran her in a circle and she came back with her tongue hanging out, but he is less predatory.

In fact, after he came back to me, she barked again: "Hey, I'm up here! Chase me!"

Obviously, she had a den nearby.

M. and I came back later that day, and we quickly found a hole dug under a big boulder with fresh fox scat outside.

So I have placed a scout camera there, because if I could get a photo of the kits, that would be a first for me.

August 05, 2013

Fisher's New Job

Walking the dogs yesterday morning, I picked a mushroom not far from the house, a bolete,  but not one that I knew

I left it on the kitchen counter while I fed them, then got busy with other stuff.

After M. was working at the same counter, I asked her if she had seen it.

No, she had not. It was nowhere to be found.

The obvious suspect was lying on a rug by the front door: Fisher — Raider of Kitchen Counters, Eater of Everything.

Going from memory, I checked the mushroom book, and it looked like I had had Boletus chrysenteron, which is edible. (From Fisher's viewpoint, if it fits in his mouth, it is edible.)

Mushroom taster, that can be his new job.

July 03, 2010

More Bear Pictures from Close to Home

On Sunday, June 27, I placed another "camera trap" on a faint game trail on the national forest near our house.

On Monday the 28th I walked the dogs up the Forest Service road nearby. Fisher, the madcap young Chessie, went galloping up the road as usual, but Shelby, the older collie mix, was staying closer to me.

Then she was lifting her nose and staring up into a narrow little meadow. I looked too, and saw the head and shoulders of a bear up there in the oak brush, perhaps 80 yards away.

Since Shelby tends to forget what "Come" means when she is excited, I snapped a leash on her. Fisher came racing back, and I made him sit and wait for a few moments to give the bear time to move away.

Given the terrain, the bear probably was moving parallel to the road. I did not want the dogs to scent it and give chase--who knows what might happen? So I convinced them that they really wanted to go home and have breakfast.

Fisher did break and run up toward where the bear had been, but I whistled him back, and we went home without incident.

Today I retrieved the camera. Notice the time and date on the strip below the photos. They seem to show the bear first moseying toward the little meadow and then retreating after it encountered us.

I am going to rest this spot for a while, but I think it deserves another camera visit later. It's in thick cover, and I have seen no sign of anyone but M. and me ever walking up there.

March 01, 2010

When Dogs Tell Lies

It's a common observation that dogs have a moral sense.

Today I was reminded that they can tell lies as well.

I was out shoveling snow. Fisher, the Chesapeake, was quietly gnawing a bone. But Shelby, the ninja collie, kept trying to slink away down the driveway.

Just when I was about to give up on calling her back and put her behind the gate on the veranda, she spotting something off across the gully between our house and the neighbors.

She gave out an alarm bark and charged off across the gully. Fisher leaped to his feet and ran after, barking excitedly.

I suddenly suspected the worst. Calling them, I slogged through the deeper snow in the gully and up to the other side.

It had all been a ruse. There was no intruder on four feet or two. Fisher and I were both (momentarily) snookered. He turned and came back. She was gone, as fast as she could run.

A hour later she came trotting back up the drive, having made her rounds of the neighbors' places, just checking for free food or other excitement.

She has pulled that trick once or twice before. When will I learn?

January 12, 2010

The Prodigal Dog

Fisher the Chesapeake ran off this afternoon while M. was walking the dogs.

She brought Shelby the collie home, then went back after him.

I woke up from a nap to find that she had even taken her Jeep up the Forest Service road looking for him.

I drove around too. We walked the neighborhood and the forest edges, calling and blowing his "come" command on the whistle.

Every dog on our road was riled up, but no Fisher.

  • Probability one: He found something very good to eat.
  • Probability two: He found a mountain lion.

Sunset came. Shelby, meanwhile, curled up on her bed on the veranda with an attitude that said, "Not my problem. I'm the good dog."

Four hours after he first ran off, he came back down the trail from the national forest boundary.

He was very thirsty. He smelled of meat. He is a skinny dog, but now he had a paunch.

He went to bed.

But now it's dog-dinner time, and he is standing in the kitchen. He does not look completely at ease. I expect that we will be awakened tonight by dog-barfing.

There went the whole afternoon when we should have been editing and proof-reading. But today, Fisher was an authentic dog.

UPDATE, Jan. 13: Amazing—no barfing in the night. 

September 22, 2009

Fisher Goes to Bird Camp

Fisher with sharp-tailed grouse, North Dakota, Sept. 2009. Photo by Chas S. Clifton
Fisher and I came back from North Dakota on the 17th, after four days of driving and four days of sharp-tailed grouse and dove-hunting with my old friend Galen (who is now blogging again).

Since our return, M. and I have both noted a change in the little Chessie. He seems a tad more mature. Still pushy and hyperactive, but not quite so much.

Cookie, Galen's German wirehaired pointer, was his tutor on the grouse, and I think he learned some things, when not chasing her madly across the prairie, liberated after two days in a kennel crate.

And I managed to down two grouse, which is two more than last year, when we never saw one within shotgun range.

Mixed grill of game birds and sausage. Photo by Chas S. Clifton.
They and some doves went into this mixed grill of apple-smoked game birds, sausage, and squash.

May 12, 2009

Chasing the Creek like a Animal

More on the new dog, Fisher. I decided to take him down to the "swimming hole" yesterday afternoon. Piled up branches and rocks (reinforced by the neighbors) make a tiny swimming hole, enough for the dogs to paddle around and make a very short water retrieve. I thought that Fisher might like to try it.

Ohmygawd.

I let him off his leash, and he dove in and swam to the other side. Then he swam to the dam. Then he scrambled over the dam. And he was off downstream--swimming, running, being swept through white water.

And barking all the time--not a panic bark, but a bark as though he were chasing something, in hot pursuit.

I was the panicked one. Was he going to go for miles? I scrambled back up to the county road and walked/jogged downstream. The creek was below my line of sight, but I could hear the barks echoing up its banks.

I went about a tenth of a mile downstream to an irrigation diversion, where I knew I could get down to the water. There he was, a little above me, splashing in a pool.

Clinging to vines and boulders, I worked my way up to him and waded out in the knee-deep water to grab him. Back on shore, I snapped his leash to his collar. Fisher just wanted to get back in the water, but I had had enough aquatic drama for one afternoon. And my shoes and jeans were soaked.

So today we are going to some ponds. They are an old gravel quarry. The banks are gently sloped, and there are no underwater obstructions. He can swim until he is exhausted, if that is what it takes.

His previous owner said that he had swum in Steamboat Lake and enjoyed it, but I do not think that he has had much water experience. We will have to change that.

To think that when I had my first Chessie puppy twenty years ago I worried whether he would take to water (he did). This one seems to have months and months of pent-up water lust in him.

June 10, 2008

Fishers on the Move in New England--Why Not Colorado?

Two years ago I blogged about M.'s possible sighting of a fisher near our home.

Some of our wildlife-minded friends said it was possible, while others said there were no fishers here and that she must have seen a big pine marten.

But apparently fishers do get around. Today's New York Times describes them expanding their territory in the Northeast.

At the same time, the fisher’s ability to adapt quickly to non-native habitats astounds biologists, who see it as a conservation success. Population statistics are hard to come by, because the animal is difficult to spot and large-scale studies have not been done. But biologists say that counts of road kill as well as the fisher’s presence in new territories clearly indicate its expanding numbers.

OK, that's New England. But if it can expand its territory in one part of the country, why not another?

April 12, 2019

Fisher's Missed Career Opportunity

I could have been a contender!
Fisher, my Chesapeake Bay retriever, loves poop. Every off-leash ramble in the woods is a chance to diversify his gut bacteria.

Only now do we learn that he could have done something much the same for science!

The article titled "He couldn't hack it as a drug-sniffing dog. Now he's conservation's best friend," shows what he might have become, if I were a wildlife biologist:
Train, a Chesapeake Bay retriever, sniffs out the scat, or poop, of elusive wild animals like jaguars and oncillas in the name of conservation. 
It might sound like an unsavory task, but these scat samples are goldmines for researchers like Train's owner, conservation biologist Karen DeMatteo.
Oh well, there are still fresh turds to be discovered here. No jaguar though.

December 11, 2014

Things that Humans Do and Dogs Don't Like

M. sent me this link with a comment, "So why does Fisher seem to like it when you bonk him on the head?"

Simple. Fisher Is Not Like Other Dogs. Or as the neighbor says, "He was made on a Monday."

Your doggage may vary.

May 23, 2014

A Blanket of Stupidity Has Descended on Our County, Part 2

Read Part 1, When is a "rattlesnake" not a rattlesnake?
Click to enlarge.

On the 19th I combined a scout camera photo of a young bear with a bear-in-the-trash incident (same bear?) to make a blog post that tried to hit the "cute zone."

I should probably just leave "cute" alone. As for the bear, he is dead.

About 7:20 yesterday morning (the 22nd) as I was dressing to take Fisher for his walk, I heard a gun shot. I wanted to believe that it was something else.

We took our walk, came home, and Fisher, out on the veranda, alerted to something. I looked where he was looking, and there up in a big pine tree was a bear with blood on his side.

I called the sheriff's dispatcher and asked for a wildlife person. In about five minutes, one of the area district wildlife managers (what Colorado calls a game warden) called back. Twenty minutes later he was here, slipping his rifle from the scabbard behind the truck seat.

The warden moves for a clear shot at the wounded bear.
After he shot, he holds up his hand: "Look, I'm shaking. I just hate to have to destroy of those magnificent creatures." And he is talking about how he loves bears above all and even has a tattoo of bears under his shirt.

What had happened was this:

We have new neighbors, the kind who having moved from a town to a five-acre lot in the woods, think that they are now deep in the Alaskan bush and must defend themselves against all dangers.

They are well-armed and have four-wheel-drive vehicles, but they did not know where their well water came from until I told them.

Right away, the guy pissed off us and some other neighbors by target-shooting his fave AR-platform .308 rifle from his front yard and also sending .22 bullets zinging across a Forest Service road where someone else was walking (or so told us — and him).

Yesterday morning, he saw a bear in his dumpster, let his dog out, the bear swatted at the dog, and he shot it.

But "Mr. Tactical" did not kill it. He let it walk away, wounded. It came onto our property, climbed a tree, and suffered for over an hour until I saw it and called for the game warden.

Then his wife comes over to where the bear is lying, all "ohmygod there's a three-month-old baby in the house and the bear was around the house and I have baby chicks inside and we love animals because we have a dog and a canary!" Et cetera.

And then M. referred to her husband as a "murderer," and things threatened to become very un-neighborly indeed.

The warden stayed calm and reminded her (and Mr. Tactical when he finally showed up, standing back at a distance) that they could have called for an evaluation of the situation, maybe even a live-trap to remove the bear.

Shooting the bear just for poking into the garbage is flat illegal. But he did not cite them, because he was just over the line into another DWM's territory, and any law-enforcement action will be up to her. Naturally we are hoping that she gets his attention with a hefty fine.

At least these people are only renting, so maybe they will move on.

By ten o'clock, the incident was over — but the day was not. There was more to come.

February 10, 2014

In the Dust Bowl of 2014

There is nothing to see in eastern Colorado. It's all flat and treeless.
 Almost a month ago — January 18th — I took County Road 11 south from Manzanola, Colo., toward part of the Comanche National Grassland. I had driven nine or ten miles when something struck me — I had seen only one small herd of cattle, maybe six head, no more. The rest had all gone to the sale barn, apparently.

I was right about where the red arrow is pointing in the graphic from the United States Drought Monitor, and what was in theory a quail-hunting trip was, admit it or not, turning more into disaster tourism.

Outdoor writer Chad Love blogs from a location downwind of that location, and he has posted some photos that, once converted from color into black-and-white, evoke the Dirty Thirties.

I didn't photograph those six cows, nor the herd I saw somewhere on Colorado  Hwy. 10 grazing in the slanting sunset light in a pasture that was about half dirt, even though it would have been nice and National Geographic-y. Like something from East Africa.

Windmill on the national grasslands. Not pumping.
Fisher the dog and I took a walk around this windmill. There was no water in the tank, no bird tracks of any sort in the dust.

We drove on to another spot closer to the Purgatory River where there was a little water, but all we saw was a single mule deer slipping away. Very quiet. Very dry. Just a general sense of absence.

Chasing scaled quail involves a lot of a windshield time—and to be honest, I have done better in more agricultural areas, but this trip was degenerating into disaster tourism.

So I admitted that I was doing that, ate a late lunch of crackers and coffee, and drove around.

We drove past the Huerfano River Wind Farm outside Walsenburg—as usual for wind farms, not all the blades were turning—and Fisher got a piss break at Huerfano Butte.

And there is the mystery of those deserted commercial buildings on the gravel road in totally misnamed Apache City.

It was good to be back into the mountains and seeing snow.