Today is Sunka’s fifth birthday! It seems like just yesterday I brought him home and shamed him into eternity by dressing him up as often as possible with camera in hand.
This little guy has been with me on many, many adventures and I wanted to make his birthday special this year. There was a brisk winter walk, some soccer in the snow, and even a homemade bow tie! I think mint green is stunning on his handsome visage.
One of the other things I love to do for my pups is make my own treats for them. I know where the treats have come from so I know they’re safe, they’re made out of just one or a few ingredients, and they’re cheap – I paid $.89 a pound for these sweet potatoes. If you want to try them, all you need are sweet potatoes, an oven, and most of a day to piddle around the house. (Perfect for bad-weather days!) If you’re not into sweet potatoes, I’ve also included an insanely simple frozen yogurt treat at the end of the post.
It’s a twofer birthday Tuesday!
Today I went for a walk to the riverside park to watch ducks dabble, wiggling their butts in the air. Today’s air was remarkably warm: it was almost 60 degrees here and sunny, the perfect day for a dog walk.
The ducks were feeling feisty in the sun. One male mallard and his lady were being tailed (ha!) by a bachelor. Mr. Mallard was not having it. He’d wait until the bachelor got daringly close – then turn on him, lower his head, stretch out his body, and give chase. Well, by “give chase” I mean he swam at the bachelor at a mildly faster clip then he’d been perusing for food. It’s not as though duck chases are like the kind you see on the Serengeti. After the bachelor got away, the two performed a comical mirroring of each other’s manly display: one duck shook his head; the other did too. One duck waggled his tail feathers; the other did so too. One duck stood up tall and flapped his wings; the other did too. The dance was followed by a few more head shakes and butt waggles before they went back to ignoring each other. Bachelor stayed close.
Off in the distance, a whole flock of ducks were performing the same antics, although there was a great deal more tussling since the crowd was large. The girls looked non-plussed; perhaps even approving of all the attention and momentary chaos. As I watched the ducks chasing each other, heads down like bikers trying to win a race, I realized that displays like these, like those of most other animals, are harmless shows of bravado. No animal truly wants to come to blows. But what if they did? Ducks have blunt bills and entirely silly feet. They certainly can’t grab at anything with their wings, and although they have pointy little teeth, they also have a nice thick coating of oiled feathers. I do know from working with raptors that the wrist joint (in human terms) of the wing is pretty powerful; maybe they’d swing at each other with those. I think I’ve seen them trying to stand on each other awkwardly while afloat when the dancing doesn’t work.
I love the ducks. There’s a bench that I sit on to watch them and even in small moments you can see a great deal of the “wild kingdom” in their interactions with each other. Sunka sits on the bench next to me, but facing backwards; he knows that in the towering pines of the park there are many tiny tree monkeys just waiting to antagonize him. I watch the ducks, he watches for squirrels. People give me big toothy grins as they walk by, seeing him seated so politely next to me on the bench, ears up.
After the ducks, we walk to a small grocer and I give in to the months-long craving I’ve had for fried chicken. And potato wedges. Those, and the latte I’ve already had are counteracted entirely by my outing to the gym this morning. No, for real.
Sunka gets a potato wedge and one tiny hunk of fried chicken, and his day is made ten times over.
As per usual, this holiday season has been busy busy buzzing for me – working, sewing for the Etsy shop, sewing holiday gifts in lieu of buying presents – it’s been fun, but am I tired. Sunka has been a good, patient pup through this bonanza of activity, so I treated him to a hike in one of my favorite spots along the river. After 3 miles he was ready for more, but the cold wind and warm sun insisted that I immediately go home and nap. I got out the old Hipstamatic for fun. Happy solstice!
Ok, you guys have probably already seen this one a million times but on the OFF chance that ONE of you hasn’t.. I posted it. Classic story of a man teasing his dog with a discussion of food.. only this dog talks back.
(Also, this guy has created some wearable merch and all proceeds go to the SPCA in Nova Scotia. Pretty frakking awesome.)
Recently I took a little jaunt to Lucky Lake in the Cascade mountains. The hike was a blood-pumping one mile, the lake was shallow (which means the water was refreshingly cool rather than omg-I-think-I’m-dying freezing like most of the lakes up here), and it was deserted. My hiking buddy and I got to swim, the dog ran around until he was exhausted, and I revealed to yet another human being my absurdly irrational fear of lake monsters. Read the rest of this entry
Recently I had to put together a display about the family Canidae and thought I’d share some of the very cool things I discovered with you all. Being a big dog lover myself, I’m forever fascinated with this family, which is in the Order Carnivora (from the Latin for “to devour flesh”), which also includes cats (Felidae), bears (Ursidae), and a smattering of other righteously cool predators.
The words “canid,” “canidae,” and “canine” all have roots in the word “canis,” which is Latin for “dog.” Also, “caninus,” meaning “of the dog.” The word “canine” refers to “pointed tooth.” (I heart etymonline.com!)
Yellowstone wolf pack in 2001. Via National Park Service.