Maybe she saw where I scratched the door! I’ll just ‘hide’ behind this sofa cushion in case I’m in trouble. No, that can’t be it. She’s laughing. I wonder what I did? Don’t tell her about the door or I’ll have to find a bigger cushion!
Maybe she saw where I scratched the door! I’ll just ‘hide’ behind this sofa cushion in case I’m in trouble. No, that can’t be it. She’s laughing. I wonder what I did? Don’t tell her about the door or I’ll have to find a bigger cushion!
Next on the agenda was to get some boating accessories. I had no idea I would need so much stuff to outfit our weird boat. And we, as weird boat owners, needed a lot, too. You may very well think that this will be an uninteresting list of stuff. To be fair, that may be true, but I promise at the end of the post there will be photos of Walter modeling his very own boat accessory.
You scrolled down, didn’t you? Just couldn’t help but skip right to the swimsuit model.
Finding a generator to charge the boat’s batteries was a bit of a challenge. Generators are heavy. Very heavy. If we were thinking about using the thing to run part of the house during a power outage, we needed something in the 3000-watt range. There was no way we could lift one of those things. I looked around and finally found the cutest generator ever. Can a generator be cute? It sure can! Check it out…
It’s a wee rolling generator with a suitcase handle! It even has a cute name. The Honda Handi is now part of our boat saga. It only weighs 78 pounds, which is half as much as a more typical generator with the same wattage would be. Now we have a weird generator to go with our weird-ass boat when it arrives.
The boat and the generator were just the first two things needed for our highly anticipated boating lifestyle. Next on the docket was the dock! Luckily, the boat guy was also a dock guy. To be honest, the boat guy had a dock guy. Luckily, the boat guy’s dock guy could manufacture whatever I might need. I probably should have warned him that I’d need a weird dock, but for the first few days, I just had him price out a typical dock. It was only later that I started adding a few changes and the true weirdness became clear. I wanted railings on both sides and steps into the water. I wanted dock ‘handles’ to hold onto when I get into the boat. Anti-convulsants make staying upright a challenge, so I need all the help I can get. The weird dock is going to look like a wheelchair ramp but at least I won’t fall in and drown if I have a seizure.
This whole epilepsy thing is a real buzzkill. If only I had gills! If I had gills I wouldn’t have to worry about all of this boring dock safety stuff. Gills would be awesome, but since I sadly don’t have them, I had to explain what I needed to the boat and dock guys and they figured out a way to do it. Of course, this means that now I have to wait for the boat and the dock to be built. Patience is not one of my virtues, but weird-assedness has its price.
Next on the list are life jackets. Did you know that you can get a life jacket that has a CO2 cartridge that will inflate the thing if it gets submersed? Whoa, this is some pretty cool technology. That whole not having gills thing is a major downer, but this might make things a bit easier if I end up in the drink. Since I’m going to be stuck wearing one of these things most of the time, I wanted one that was as unobtrusive as possible. The one shown below seemed like it might work out just fine. Although mine is in a nice fuschia color.
I have to admit, it’s hard to be unobtrusive as a large woman in a fuschia life jacket, but one must do what one must do. I suppose the bright color will help them locate me while I’m flopping around being all seizure-y and totally oblivious to my gill-lessness. I cannot stress enough just how unfair it is that I don’t have gills. I don’t even have one of those cool, scaly mermaid tails. Nooo…instead I get a self-inflating life jacket like the one below…in fuschia…and no gills. Sigh…
Have we forgotten about Walter? Of course not! Walter will be part of the crew even though he can’t pedal the paddle wheel. He still needs a slip-resistant dog bed and…yes…a lifejacket of his very own. You think I’m joking? Look below. Oh right, who am I kidding? I know you’ve already looked. I know how you are!
Here is our very own Walter sporting his new Ruffwear personal floatation device. Now we’ll be known not only as the people with the weird boat, but more specifically as the people with the weird boat with a Great Dane on board wearing a red life jacket. What can I say? We live a colorful life.
I know it seems odd to have a life jacket for a dog but the dog-paddle will only get you so far, especially if you are a Great Dane who never swims and only goes in the water up to your belly. I figure if he goes overboard, he’ll need all the help he can get! I might need to get a rope, though. If he goes overboard, there is no way I’ll be able to haul him back onto the boat…even if there is a life jacket handle. I am envisioning more of a towing situation. He’ll float along in his life jacket and we’ll tow him back to shore. The pontoon boat will become a tugboat, of sorts. Toot Toot! Walter coming through!
A week or three ago, we were on our way to an appointment and we bought a boat. Now it may seem like an odd thing to just pick up along the way, but that’s what happened. You probably think this was an impulse purchase, but I assure you that we talked about it for TWO whole days before pulling the trigger. It was one of those “hey, you know a boat would make our time at camp more fun” sort of conversations.
The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea, but I knew there would be hurdles. You see, Bill is allergic to gasoline. Not really allergic to the stuff itself, really. It’s more like an allergy to things that are gasoline adjacent. He has a very strong dislike for internal combustion engines. This feeling runs deep. He won’t have any more to do with them than necessary. The post lawnmowing cursing is usually quite colorful. Crayola doesn’t have enough colors to give it justice. Gasoline and the motors that require it are his nemeses.
Bill’s dislike of anything associated with engines stopped my boat fantasy dead in the water. Then I remembered that my Dad used to tinker around with outboard motors and he had this fleeting electric trolling motor phase. This was years ago but I still remember him hauling the car battery into the boat and hanging that tiny motor on the back. It wasn’t fast, but it sure was quiet. All the better to sneak up on those wary trout!
Hmmm…electric…hmmm…no gas…hmmm. Yeah, my thought process went on like that for a while. I really am not exaggerating the number of ‘hmmms’ going on in my head, either. I was hmmm-ing a lot. You see, Bill wasn’t the only one with a set of must-haves. His was really a list of must-have-nots, but I won’t belabor that point.
What I needed was a pontoon boat. I know, they have this reputation of being party-barges and I am certainly not a person easily found on a party-anything. However, I needed the stability so I wouldn’t drown. It’s not that I don’t know how to swim, I just can’t be trusted to stay alive if an epileptic seizure comes along. That sort of scenario in a typical boat might be the end of me. Being in a canoe would…well, let’s just not think about the canoe scenario. I could become smallmouth bass food. The Pumpkinseeds could actually eat me rather than just nibble my toes as they usually do. We won’t even talk about the snapping turtles!
A pontoon boat wouldn’t normally be my first choice of craft if my mortality wasn’t an issue, but on further consideration, it made some sense. I love wildlife and a pontoon boat wouldn’t be so scary for them. We could toodle around the pond to see what’s going on without actually visiting people. Did I mention that I’m an introvert? I guess a wave toward someone on the shore would be ok, but let’s not go overboard. 😉
Keep in mind that none of this was real. It was all fantasy and I was just thinking about boat types, and motors, and gas-avoidance as a sort of mental exercise. How could one propel a party-less barge without gas? It really didn’t matter because it would never happen. But just for fun, I looked at a couple of the boats online and they were overwhelmingly huge…with correspondingly huge gas motors. That made sense. What electric trolling motor could move one of those behemoths? I remember thinking “ok, that query was fun…what’s the next topic I should explore?” Deck planking was on my list of research subjects, but my heart wasn’t in it. Your heart really has to be in it to research deck planking. I’m not sure when my heart will be in it, but it wasn’t going to be right then, that’s for sure. Maybe they make tiny pontoon boats?
During one of my fantasy pontoon/electric trolling motor searches, a number of sites popped up with the typical gas-powered boats. Surprisingly a couple of them were smaller than usual. I aimlessly poked around and then I noticed a site that specifically mentioned a pontoon boat with electric backup. Well now, let’s look at this!
When I opened the page, I was astounded. It was like the manufacturer had read our often disparate minds and cobbled together the most weird-ass hybrid the boating world has ever seen. As I read down through the specs, it was becoming clear that this was a craft that even Bill would like. It wasn’t an electric pontoon boat, it was a pedal-powered pontoon boat with electric backup! Oh, I knew he would be all over this one. He’s an exercise freak and he is always on his bicycle. This way, he could pedal his little heart out and I could wave as we passed gape-mouthed onlookers wondering what the hell that weird boat was!
The idea was amusing. I might have even chuckled to myself. But as I continued to read the specs and look at the picture, I was the one who was gape-mouthed. How in the hell did they ever think of putting pedals in a pontoon boat with electric backup AND a solar option!? Since there is no power at camp, the idea of hauling a battery home to charge it was daunting, but if solar could help… Hmmmm….
The picture of it sent me into gales of laughter. Look at that thing with the solar panel on the back and what the hell is that? The thing doesn’t have a proper propeller, it has a paddle wheel like the boats on the Mississippi of Mark Twain’s era! I was beginning to think I was having one of those Alice in Wonderland kind of trips. Nothing about that boat made sense, and yet it made all the sense in the world.
This post is about dog drool and Walter’s copious dispersal thereof. He’s very good at slinging the slobber so don’t forget to pick up your Drool Abatement Kit before proceeding.
Having a drool-producing canine can be an annoyance. If you have a big dog like Walter, it can be life-changing. He drools…a LOT! Think of a St. Bernard and a Newfie combined. Yeah, you get the picture. The very drippy, soggy picture…
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. There are two types of Great Danes: American and European. American Danes have, what I would call, normal jowls. European Danes have jowls that droop to their knees. Walter should have had taut, trim American jowls like most of his ancestors.
Instead, his jowls are so droopy, it’s amazing that he doesn’t trip over them. All of his ancestors were American except for one European great or great-great (I forget) grandfather who came from Euro stock. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Walter is a throwback, I should have thrown him back years ago!
If there was a Department of Drool at Hogwarts, Walter would be the Wizard of Drool. The Wiz of Drool has a rather fun ring to it, don’t you think? He could also be the Wiz of Whiz but that was the subject of one of my previous posts. Walter’s urinary indiscretions are, after all, legendary. Between the drool and the pee, Walter’s most-heard words are “Walter, no! Walter, get away from me!” Walter never goes away. If there is any chance at all that he can pass a little slobber along, he will find a way to do it.
People are not his only targets, either. Windows and doors are obvious choices, but for Walter, any vertical surface is fair game. Horizontal surfaces are not immune either. I always say that anything less than 7 feet off the ground isn’t safe from him. (If you are a banana, I might stretch that to 8 feet. Walter loves bananas.) But the drool knows no limits. Ceiling-slobber is not unheard of. Do you know how hard it is to clean dog drool off a tin ceiling? Repeatedly? I do, and I wish I didn’t.
The cats have not been left unscathed, either. Our little kitten Tulip likes Walter. I don’t know why, but she does. One particularly slobbery day, Tulip walked up to Walter and he gave her a kiss…one long lick from her toes to the top of her head. I’ve never seen a cat shake like a dog does in order to shed water, but she did just that. Oh, Walter…
One might think that dog drool is only a negative thing and nothing positive could possibly come from it, but that’s not true. Much like his shoe-peeing prowess, the drool thing tends to keep away unwanted visitors. Being an introvert, that is sometimes a handy thing. “Oh yes, he tends to jump and drool on you. He peed on your shoes? Yes, he tends to do that, too. Oh, must you go so soon?” Heh heh heh Goodbye salespeople, religious pamphlet-bearers, and the dreaded “oh I just thought I’d drop by”-ers. Seeya! Or not.
Unfortunately, Walter’s fluid-sharing predilections can keep away wanted visitors, as well. This can be a problem. I will often try to corral Walter in the living room if it’s just going to be a kitchen table sort of visit. But if we want to sit and chat on the sofa for a while, I have to march Walter past the wanted visitors to the other end of the house. He does not like to be marched past potential targets…especially if they are unsullied drool-wise. Drool virgins are his favorites. I feel sorry for the drool virgins. There are few things scarier than a 150-pound drooling dog who is eyeing your shoes for their potential as a good pee-stop. He really likes to slobber chests, too. Boob-drool is more common than I care to admit. I just thought I’d mention these things to all of you who make excuses for Walter and think he is just awesome. I dare you to come and visit me for a dose of boob-drool! I.DARE.YOU!
The other day, I realized that Walter had outdone himself drool-wise. He had a long line of it strung across the top of his own head. That takes skill. I got out the drool towel and cleaned him off. Yes, I have a drool-towel. Actually, it’s a purple batik drool-bandana and when I’m not using it to clean him up, he wears it as a fashion accessory!
This is the second morning in a row that I’ve been awake before 10 AM. For those of you who have jobs that might seem a little indulgent, but I had one of those for over 30 years and now I get up when I damned well please. Unless I inexplicably wake up early. Then the indulgence turns to sorrow and disjointed thoughts.
When I first woke up I kept having potential blog topics running through my head. Snippets that were totally unrelated. For instance, I experienced a bit of guilt about providing so many Walter posts and never giving any blog space to my cats. But then I let myself off the hook because, after all, the cats are normal pets and Walter is not. Not by a long shot…
Then I thought about discussing this very unusual boat we are getting. Do we get a normal boat? Hell, no! But that’s a post for another time. Maybe I’ll do that in a few minutes if I don’t get sleepy. If sleep doesn’t appear soon, I’ll be a grumpy, sleep-deprived zombie whack job when I write it, so be prepared. Preparations should include an appropriate hiding place, preferably one with coffee. Mmmm coffee. That’s what I want right now but shouldn’t have because I really do want to sleep and cease becoming a grumpy, sleep-deprived zombie whack job. Who am I kidding? If I get more sleep I’ll just be a slightly less grumpy zombie whack job who is well-rested.
My next potential topic concerned my obsession with a cell phone game rated for ages 4+. Stop judging me! It’s perfectly normal to wait impatiently while my flowers grow and watch for some sort of weird bug/creature to appear. *checks game* Why do I wait for weird bugs on virtual flowers? It’s because collecting enough of them can get you spiffy prizes. These include outfits I can use to dress my character and furniture I can use to decorate a little campsite. *checks game* I am currently behind in my bug collecting and I might not make my quota before tonight and then I will miss out on getting that sandalwood resort hut. It doesn’t matter that it will probably sit in my virtual inventory and never be used, I want it. I want it bad. I don’t just want it, I NEED it!
It occurs to me that not having a schedule might be deleterious to my Age 4+ mind. I don’t care. I’m going to get that damned sandalwood resort hut if I have to haunt my phone constantly until 2 AM because that’s when the bugs go away and my chance of getting my NEEDED sandalwood resort hut is gone like a bird on a boat potentially bringing me snacks. Yeah, it’s a strange game and it really is early in the morning for me, isn’t it?
*This blog has now been interrupted while Walter howls at horses.* Yes, this is happening real-time. Did I make this up? No. If I had made it up, it would be the start of a Walter post. Since I am currently a coffeeless, sleep-deprived zombie whack job, I will resist writing another post about Walter, even though horse-howling is a rather interesting topic and does deserve to be explored. Maybe later…
Back to irregularly scheduled programming. *checks game* I went to a wedding reception yesterday. How was that for a non-existent seque? Get used to it, there will be more. The reception was a casual affair hosted by the blissful couple at a cottage on a lake in the middle of a savage thunderstorm. I had cake.
What do you all know about docks? *checks game* We have to get one for the weird boat and I’m a dock virgin so there are many questions. I was reading about mooring whips and water agitators and started to fantasize about becoming a dock virgin pond dominatrix.
Yet another Walter interruption. He has traded in his howling for whining. There is a Golden Retriever down the road. Even though said retriever can barely be seen, except by him, it doesn’t matter. The whining continues. Horse-howling is a distant memory.
*boof* I promise, I’m not even going to give Walter his own paragraphs anymore because he’s just indiscriminately boofing at a spot where a Golden Retriever was…and is not anymore. *checks game* Golden Retrievers are like that. They have the nerve to move out of Walter’s view, and apparently, that is boof-worthy. *checks game* Oooh, I got some bugs and a white beach dress as a prize!* Thirty-four bugs to go! *boof*
Wow! Did you know that you can get a water-agitating, muck-removing thingmabob? Neither did I. I know this subject just randomly popped up but I think it’s important to know that The Aquasweep Muck Blaster starts at only $1195! I cannot make this stuff up. *boof* Maybe my potential as a pond dominatrix could be achieved if I got a muck-blasting water agitator. It does sound sufficiently painful, don’t you think?
*boof..bark…howl* I wish I could put videos here. That sound combination is YouTube gold. It’s not often I get a threefer from Walter. It’s usually one sound or another, but we have now reached trifecta status in the dog noise emission category this morning. Stand by for farts. That’s the only dog noise emission left. Other dog emissions are not allowed. If he pees on the sofa again there will be whimpering, and I hate whimpering before coffee.
*low growl boof* Hey, that’s new. Walter never ceases to amaze me. Oh damn, I am actually giving him another paragraph when I promised I wouldn’t. Oh well, you’d better let me off the hook on this one. Keep in mind that I’m a pond dominatrix and I can moor-whip you into submission regarding Walter paragraph promises. If the moor-whipping isn’t sufficient, I’ll get out the Aquasweep Muck Blaster and then you’ll be sorry!
I’m not sure if I shared this fun fact about Walter, but if not, it’s time I did. Don’t tell him I mentioned this or he might be embarrassed. What am I saying? Walter is never embarrassed. Walter doesn’t care what the world thinks of him. Not one iota. He just goes about doing his Walter things, in his Walter way.
This particular Walter thing embarrasses me, however. You see, when Walter gets very excited, he pees a little. Or, depending on the situation, he pees a lot! When someone he likes comes to the house, he will jump up and down ecstatically while sprinkling the floor with pee. This is very embarrassing. Especially if it happens when a stranger comes to visit. Someone new can be rather surprised to see a Great Dane pee in excitement! How do you say to someone: “Hey, he likes you! Look at that, he peed!” Yeah, it’s not something I brag about.
That’s bad enough, but this wouldn’t be much of a story if it ended there. A quick mop-up and an apology can usually remedy that problem quickly. But if he gets too close to the person coming in the door, he’s been known to pee on their foot! I am not one who likes to entertain, but having my dog pee on a guest’s foot is going a little too far!
But that isn’t the worst of it. Now I will say that this is probably not all Walter’s fault. Mostly, but not all. I’ve often written about the gal who comes to clean/landscape/dog sit for us. Wendy is a marvel. And Wendy loves Walter. More to the point, Walter LOVES his Auntie Wendy. He gets very excited when he sees her. We have already ascertained what Walter does when he gets excited. You know what’s coming…
Now, this is where I have to explain why this incident wasn’t completely Walter’s fault. Wendy likes to play with him and get him all worked up. She will pretend to step on his toes and chase him around. There have been vacuum cleaner wars and games of hide and seek. They will be all over the place as they play. This particular time, Wendy reached down for a dog toy and that was so exciting that Walter took his chance and peed on her head! This behavior would normally embarrass me no end, but I think she asked for it. She knew how he is and she knew the risks of playing with him like that. I might not have been terribly sympathetic. Actually, I might have laughed uproariously.
But this wasn’t the ‘crowning glory’ of Walter’s urinary indiscretions. Not long ago, Walter had to go to a vet he normally doesn’t see. He needed a quick, minor procedure done and she took him out back to perform it. A few minutes later the tech returned him to me and he was all happy. Since he wasn’t used to this vet, I asked how it went. The tech said: “He peed on her head!” I’m not sure what kind of relationship this tech had with the vet, but she said it with a big grin on her face. After a very embarrassing moment, she tried to reassure me that it happens all of the time. Somehow, I think she was just trying to make me feel better. I mean, how many dogs would do that? How many could!?
Do you know how hard it is to skulk shamefully out of a vet’s office with a bouncy Great Dane riling up all of the other patients? There was no uproarious laughter this time. Walter was happy as can be, but I was the one leaving with my tail between my legs.
It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned any of Walter’s indiscretions. He’s been the subject of numerous posts here. If you decide to pass this one by, I promise I won’t think less of you. You see, I’m insufferable when it comes to Walter because I talk about him a lot and I’m like a grandmother proudly showing off photos of her grandkids in a grocery aisle, keeping all of the other shoppers from reaching the frozen asparagus that is always on the top shelf. I’m sort of like that, only I’m not keeping others from frozen asparagus and I am not proud of him. When it comes to Walter, one can only ask: “What has he done now!” or “Can you believe he survived this?” or “How could my cute puppy turn into Destructo-Dog?”
Today it wasn’t bad. When I woke up this morning, I found trash scattered around the kitchen. This is rather common behavior for a dog if given the opportunity. But it brought to mind all of the really weird stuff he’s chewed and/or consumed. Mostly the latter. I know I’ve mentioned some of these before, but it’s rather impressive seeing them in a very long list. As long as it is, this list is abbreviated because I’ve effectively blocked out many of his more heinous crimes.
Anyhow, here it goes:
Toilet Paper, Taking toilet paper off the roll and threading it through every room of the house without breaking it takes true skill. Walter is a toilet paper genius.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner. I have no idea why.
Leveling feet for the washing machine. You know the things that are like big bolts that can be screwed in to make the washer level. Yes, he ate those.
Orchids x 10? I’ve already lost count. Walter is a very experienced orchid-eater.
Houseplants Many, Many more in addition to the orchids. Maybe he thinks he needs more vegetation in his diet. Speaking of which…
Virginia Creeper. This vine covers his kennel fence completely. Or at least it did until he managed to tear a bunch of it down and consume it. Grapes are poison for dogs. Since Virginia Creeper is a cousin of the grape, it was very bad. I actually thought I might lose him. But I should have known that he would pull through. I swear he’s indestructible.
Lightbulb packaging. Disconcertingly, the bulbs were never found.
My Journal…there are no words. Well, there were words in the journal before he decimated it, but there are no words to express how I felt about this one. I didn’t take it well.
Knives. Now before you get all worried, he did not cut him himself, he merely chewed the handles off. He has now de-handled a set of four and he’s eying my other set.
Scouring pads. He particularly liked to steal and chew the plastic one I use to clean his water bowl…I must admit it’s in the shape of a dog bone, so I “might” give him a pass on this one.
Pens and Pencils. Oh, so many pens, pencils; and other pen and pencil-shaped things that he has deinked! They are truly innumerable. He chewed so many markers till the ink bled that my old sofa was psychedelic!
Crayons. Yes, he ate crayons. Bill said he was pooping rainbows for a couple of days. Perhaps he was trying to become a unicorn.
My previous sofa. Thank goodness it was old and had already been through three puppies. However, before Walter, it was pretty much intact. Most puppies chew a small bit of the cushion. Not Walter. He would chew a BIG hole in the fabric and then proceed to rip the stuffing out! Great Danes apparently suffer from EBS more than most other breeds. Exploding Bed Syndrome is a real thing and I suddenly feel better knowing that I’m not the own Dane owner who suffers this. Given enough time, Walter would have turned the sofa into this…
CD cases. They have always been a favorite. Poor Cake took the hardest hit. I suppose if you name a band Cake, you really should expect a dog to give your disc a chomp or two.
Cacti. More than I care to count. How he has avoided looking like he tangled with a porcupine INSIDE his mouth, I’ll never know. He feels no pain.
Handsaw. Recently he chewed the handle of a brand new saw, and then he chewed the cardboard safety guard exposing the very sharp teeth of the saw. You would think that chewing a saw blade would hurt, but Walter truly must be oblivious to pain because he did it TWICE!
Bananas. I only mention this one because he adores bananas, and he will go to all lengths to get them. He eats them whole, skin and all. He loves them so much that he has snagged them from a shelf seven feet off the ground. Nothing is safe.
Cat food. Typical, right? Not this time. He took unopened cans and chewed them until the cat food oozed out. Then he chewed the cans into smaller pieces that were strewn throughout the house. I am usually barefoot and I was not happy when I stepped on the tin shards. And I really wasn’t amused when my rug smelled like ‘Salmon Entree’ even after three scrubbings.
Aquarium filter cartridge. Now you might think that I left it out and he just grabbed it for a little chew. Oh no, he actually opened the filter and snagged the filter cartridge from the running filter!! Wet carbon everywhere! I don’t know how he did it or why. Walter is inscrutable.
Very dark chocolate. This is another big no-no for dogs so I “encouraged” him to vomit. Everything came up foamy…and blue! Come to find out, he had grabbed a…wait for it…
Steel wool SOS pad! The mind boggles.
Years ago we were having a problem with poachers. People would go into our woods, shoot a deer, and then haul it out through our field. More than once, while we were at work, our neighbors called the Sheriff’s department and Game Wardens. Of course, by the time a deputy or warden could get here, the poacher was long gone.
This irked me. It irked me a lot. Not just because they came and killed ‘my’ deer, but because it was totally disrespectful. Our land is posted, which means no one is allowed to hunt here without permission…which I would never give, of course. But the poachers didn’t know that! So they were deer murderers who had no respect for the law…or us.
This went on for a while and I got more and more furious. I love seeing the deer in our field. I just hated the idea of them being killed like that. I was also not happy about the fact that someone was shooting a rifle so close to the house. This is how people get killed in their own backyards. It happens. I actually saw a hunter on the side of the road get a bead on Bill when he was down in the field. It was a Sunday and Bill thought he would be safe without wearing Hunter Orange. No one is safe here when it is deer season, and even when it isn’t.
Anyhow, I decided that law enforcement wasn’t going to be of much help here. Not because they didn’t want to catch poachers, but because the lawbreakers were here and gone again in the blink of an eye. So I had to figure out a way to send a message to the poachers that this might not be the best place to poach.
I decided to set up a man target. That’s what I call it, but I guess they call it a silhouette target, too. It looks like this:
I put that thing up right in the middle of the field that those idiots used to haul out their fresh kills. As I was setting it up, I thought it might make more of an impression on the poachers if it actually had some bullet holes in it. So I put a few shots into the chest area. I probably couldn’t hit the side of a barn now, but back then I was a pretty good shot. There was a tight cluster in the heart area. I thought it looked rather menacing and I was rather proud of myself. I thought it was a good plan to let those poachers know what would happen if they kept coming back.
The more I stood there looking my handiwork, the more I thought that it just didn’t seem right. I tore the target down. I put up a fresh one and fired a few rounds that created another nice, new cluster of bullet holes. When I emptied the last chamber and gave it a critical glance, I knew it would send the right message.
When shooting a gun, it’s obvious that aim is everything.
This time I aimed low.
We haven’t had a problem with poachers since.
The American Bald Eagle is alive and well at our pond. Word has it that there are two adults and four juveniles hunting along the shore. Having lived during the time that these wonderful birds were on the brink of extinction, this sight makes me happier than you can imagine. The inimitable Debb Heald has captured this bird superbly, and I must thank her again for sharing her photos here.
Disclaimer: I must warn you that immediately after the wonderful pictures, there will be a commentary of a historical nature that, though intermittently funny, may be dry to some. However, I promise it will include Ben Franklin, scandalous ornithological revelations, and Cincinnati. Yes, I said Cincinnati.
These photos spurred me on to do a little research about how the American Bald Eagle was chosen to be on the official seal of the United States. Spoiler alert! It was done by committee! Three of them, to be exact! But let’s get on with the popular myth.
I had always been told that when the Founding Fathers were trying to choose a symbol for our fledgling (sorry, couldn’t resist) country, Ben Franklin urged everyone to use a Wild Turkey on the seal, but he was outvoted and the Bald Eagle was chosen instead. Imagine my surprise when I found out that this was untrue…mostly. He, along with Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, failed to come up with an appropriate seal. Two more committees failed as well. The secretary of Congress, a guy named Charles Thomson, took the work from the three committees and cobbled together the best parts of each. You know, if the Founding Mothers were in charge of this whole seal thing, it would have been done in an afternoon with a bit of embroidery while having a cup of tea.
Yeah, I know…boring history. I promise it will get better. You just wait. We haven’t even gotten to the scandalous ornithological revelations, yet. Or Cincinnati! Let’s carry on, and just to give you a little motivation, there will be a quiz.
There isn’t any proof that Franklin lobbied for the Turkey over the Eagle, but after the choice was made, he certainly had opinions on both! In fact, according to the Franklin Institute, he sent a letter to his daughter giving his views on the seal design, and a few other things, as well. I just have to include it here because he made me laugh, as Franklin often does.
“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.
With all this injustice, he is never in good case but like those among men who live by sharping & robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our country…
“I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”
Hey, hold on here. Is it true that the American Bald Eagle steals his food from the Fishing Hawk (otherwise known as the Osprey)? We have Osprey on the pond, too. I’m not sure if that alleged fish-stealing behavior is smart or mean…or both! Debb, you’ll have to take a pic if you see this happening. We need proof that Franklin was right. Otherwise, I’m just going to go on believing that the Bald Eagle would never do such a thing.
Now, what about the part where a Kingbird will attack an Eagle and shoo him away!? That can’t be true. Maybe Franklin was making the point that the Bald Eagle wasn’t a fit symbol to represent America when faced with a tyrannical King. Of course, these early Americans were greatly vexed by the King of England so that made some sense. But what was it about this Kingbird that was so great and powerful?
Of course, now I had to learn more about the Eastern Kingbird. When I pulled up the Audobon webpage, the first thing I saw was the Latin name for the bird in question: Tyrannus tyrannus. So this little bird is aggressive enough to earn a name that means tyrant…twice!! Interesting tidbit (at least to me,) the Kingbird is part of a family called the Tyrant Flycatchers. One of the members of this family is the Eastern Wood Pee Wee. When I saw that I actually laughed out loud. If England can have a Great Tit, I guess it’s only fair that we can have a Wood Pee Wee. But I digress…
Franklin left me with another burning question. There was that bit about the eagle not being the proper emblem for the “brave and honest Cincinnati of America.” What does this bird kerfuffle have to do with a city in Ohio? Come to find out, ‘The Cincinnati of America’ was the first U.S.veterans’ organization whose first president was, you guessed it, George Washington! The city was actually named after that organization comprised of Revolutionary war heroes.
Just leave it to Franklin to send me down multiple rabbit holes all at once! And people wonder why I’m up half the night! *insert joke about night owls here* 😉 Once I start researching something, there’s no stopping me.
So there we have it. An American myth debunked…mostly, a majestic bird besmirched, a bit of satirical 18th-century political commentary, a little insight into my late night rabbit hole habits, and some info on a tyrannical bird the size of a sparrow.* And Cincinnati! One must never forget Cincinnati.
You just never know what you’ll find here on Everyone Else Has The Best Titles! And for those of you who made it to the end, I thank you. Just so I know who really did stick with me this far, please comment with the name of the bird you like best in this piece. All two of you. 😉
*In truth, Eastern Kingbirds are actually quite a bit bigger than most sparrows…I just looked it up! 😉
Snow makes for some interesting behavior when spring comes around. Animals aren’t quite sure how to deal with the receding snow.
Years ago, I was quite amused by the fact that the dogs would pee only on the snow that was left over until it was melted and they had no choice. It still strikes me as odd, even after all of these years of witnessing the behavior by one dog after another.
This week I’ve been watching the deer quite a bit. We have a lot of them in the field behind the house. I rarely see a deer lying down, but this week I’ve seen a number of them all resting on the last bits of snow. The field is mostly bare, though there is plenty of snow on the shady parts. That is where I saw the deer in repose.
I suppose that behavior is like that of the dogs peeing on the snow. They do what they’ve done for months until the circumstances change. I suppose we humans are much the same. Short-term memory makes for easy decisions on what to do next. Long-term memory makes us who we are. I wonder if the deer and the dogs would agree.