Outside of a Dog

This could get complicated, seeing as how I have not spoken in public places about “the dog situation” in some months. I was forbidden to, so fraught with potential guilt in giving the dog-in-question back to Angels of Assisi should we fail, or otherwise not succeeding in the training to make him fit in, to bond with us and behave anything like the dogs that have been our companions, back to our first in 1981. 

I have good news, for those who might have been in on the story: Scout is still with us, and he belongs here and knows it. It has been a steep uphill battle, finally won. Mostly.

The story of that behavior mod remains for another time, perhaps. It is the discovery of Scout’s genetic roots I want to share briefly here this morning. 

The mug shot on the animal adoption website showed a pale-colored medium-sized 13 month old dog named Coco, and described him as “yellow lab / golden retriever mix.” Three of the four A-team dogs we’ve had under our roof over the last 35 years have been labs, Gandy the Ridgeback-Shepherd mix being the exception.

So we took the risk and brought him home—the first older-than-eight-week puppy in our pets lineup, and odd to think of it: He is likely the last dog we will ever have in our lives. Strange to think the dog is likely to outlive us, but there comes a time.

Regarding pedigree, I was convinced there was other blood involved. Scout (our new name for him) does not have the docile-tractable lab state of mind exactly. He shows a much more independent streak, with less drive to please and cooperate. But maybe that just has to do with his first home, about which we know nothing—only that he came to us knowing nothing. Sit. Stay. Come. Not so much. 

But the strangest physical trait was the tail hooked over the back. So I thought maybe husky; or Spitz. But Scout’s tail is fish-hook curved when he is intent on something out the window or in the field, then droops to horizontal when he is calm. What’s up with that?

Scout’s tendencies outdoors are not lab-like. Every lab we’ve ever grown to know has been an ardent and skilled MOLE extractor. I have pictures of Tsuga in the snow, tossing a mole high in the air, and catching it in his mouth. Our yard has always been pockmarked with mole diggings. Not anymore. 

Scout could care less about moles, but he is a champion mouser. He digs out a big tuft of shredded grass from the pasture a half-dozen times every time we take our walk there. More often than not, there is a protein snack inside.

And lastly in the list of pedigree puzzlers, in the garden (which has become Scout’s alfresco recreation space) he doesn’t help with the moles there like I wish he would. But he digs “snout pits” for no apparent reason. I think I have a picture somewhere of the results.

So here’s where the story takes a turn: Because it was new and I wanted to test it, I used Google Lens to take a picture of Scout, who was sitting there next to me when I had the notion to use this new tool. It came back with an identification of the object in the image.

And that is where the story picks up in the next blog post! 

BONUS FEATURE (or additional punishment, depending…)

Who originally made this quip:

Outside of a Dog, a Book is Man’s Best Friend. Inside of a Dog, It’s Too Dark to Read

I thought it was Groucho Marx. Maybe. Maybe not.

Who Thinks Up These Beings Anyways?

Once again, I’m taking the easy way out. I’m happy to share—need to, even—lest I finally accept the  eddys are good enough and just hush. So nothing fancy. No eye candy. Just the facts, m’am.

Not surprisingly, it is the fellow creatures we live with that draw my amazement, admiration and respect—not to mention the previously-intact ecosystems that gave rise to them, many of which are now on their way off the page of history occupied so completely and with such a heavy hand by our invasive species. 

You really should call in the children to see the spider-tailed snake and the gaping maws of Finches from Outer Space. 

For those who genuinely care for the sanctity of life, these “low” creatures and so many more marvels like them matter to the whole of life, far more than we will likely every know. The pity that many will never even be discovered to be observed and written about before their populations and entire species goes extinct in the very near term, perhaps.

What’s Up With the Weird Mouths of These Finch Chicks?

The Lure of the Spider-Tailed Horned Viper 

Seeking Superpowers in the Axolotl Genome – The New York Times 

The Root of All Weevil

Spontaneous generation?

They just are there–in the five pound bag of flour you just brought home yesterday. There, in the mixing bowl that was going to hold the biscuits for dinner, but now, in a puff of white smoke, ground grains with tiny hard beetles go into the burn pit out back.

But don’t blame the insects. They are just doing what they do to make a living, wingless though they are. They have learned to hitch-hike around the world over the past few thousand years as post-glacial humankind cultivated the land, then stored, then globally-shipped wheat products everywhere.

Read the details at NPR, and just go ahead and enjoy a little crunch in your next batch of pancakes.

New Book: Fifth Risk

We are lurching forward into an unknown and unchartable future where there are no rules or precedents in the halls of government. Where might we end up when uninformed democracy breaks down and unconstrained capitalism drives us to the brink?

“Willful ignorance plays a role in these looming disasters. If your ambition is to maximize short-term gains without regard to the long-term cost, you are better off not knowing those costs. If you want to preserve your personal immunity to the hard problems, it’s better never to really understand those problems. There is upside to ignorance, and downside to knowledge.

Knowledge makes life messier. It makes it a bit more difficult for a person who wishes to shrink the world to a worldview. If there are dangerous fools in this book, there are also heroes, unsung, of course. They are the linchpins of the system—those public servants whose knowledge, dedication, and proactivity keep the machinery running. Michael Lewis finds them, and he asks them what keeps them up at night.”

Read more about and from the book…

Old Dog: New Tricks? Maybe.

Merwin you can't plant a forest SustainFloyd Floyd Virginia
The bones of trees

Just when a geezer gets comfortable with “the way things were” they morph out from under him.

And that isn’t all bad. Nothing like a rocking boat to test your equilibrium. So now that I’m paid up for another year of life on Fragments without any great notion of the so-what of such a choice, WordPress mixes it up and changes their editing platform.

And so I decided to change up my Style plugin for a while and see what a visual change might bring about.

I actually have a long list of potential blog posts, but am yet to be convinced that this tree falling in the forest will make any sound. Things have been this way for years now, and the old blogging hay days are long past. And yet I can’t quite say I’m done.

I will give this “blocks” approach to editing some weeks of use and see if I get inspired–as in come to sense I am not bowling alone.

Let’s just toss in an image here and see how that works.

Okay, this one of tree silhouettes from Rocky Knob–already in the media gallery from long ago–prompts the possibility of a future post on trees–when the piece is cleared for public release. This work has been invisible to Facebook and the blog, but which kept me pleasantly busy for a couple of weeks in December. More, perhaps, soon-ish.

Let me know of any viewing issues with the new template.