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Archive for the ‘animals’ Category

Ernie and Grieving

He lived a long, good dog life, with many adventures, even joining me cross country when he was a year and a half old, going to Minnesota, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Louisville, visiting Graceland in Memphis and the Grand Canyon (which he did not care for).  He traveled to Vancouver, Canada, to Santa Barbara, and up into the Sierra foothills often. And he knew the southern shoreline of Alameda Point, between the USS Hornet Museum and Encinal High, like the back of his paw.

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Ernie, in early November

Our sweet old German shepherd mix, Ernie, became very feeble toward the end of his life. I kept waiting for a sign from him, but his appetite never diminished.  A dog-walking friend described how “the light went out” in her dog’s eyes, and she knew it was time. The light never left Ernie’s eyes:  he was always alert, attune to me, the shepherd in him ever watchful.

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Shortly after dawn this morning I was walking Edie along the shoreline of the old naval air station, when I noticed a large, circling flock of dark birds overhead. (more…)

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It began when the missus and I went up to Mendocino for Thanksgiving. Our friends were staying in Little River, on the coast, and as we drove to the house they were renting we drove through a meadow full of robins.

Mrs. O exclaimed that she had never seen so many robins at one time in her life. Many dozens of them, more than we could count, flew up into the cypress trees along the road!

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And on Groundhog’s Day, too.  California is in the midst of an awful drought. Not so bad for the humans, so far, but very threatening to agriculture, which will affect us eventually, and far more serious for wildlife and the environment.

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There’s a vast continent-sized island of plastic debris floating in the Pacific. Meanwhile, the polar bears are drowning in the Arctic for lack of ice floes. I suppose it would be prohibitively expensive, but what if we could fuse a lot of that Pacific debris into plastic floes cast adrift in the Arctic for the desperate bears to clamber up on and catch their breath?

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I’ve had insomnia for years. Our old German Shepherd dog, Ernie, has perhaps learned this. He certainly monitors me closely enough.

He no longer merely approaches me during the early hours, between 2 and 4 a.m., but he has devised signals to roust me. Including scratching vigorously enough to rattle his collar. More recently, he has taken to smacking his lips.

I know, you wouldn’t think it would be that loud, would you? But just try and get back to sleep in the quiet, dead of night with a big dog going smack, smack, smack.

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Birds of Winter

I noticed some bird species I hadn’t seen for a while during my dawn dog walk this morning. It’s the fall migration, and we have a storm system coming through (chance of thunderstorms tonight), so they’re probably traveling ahead of the turbulent weather.

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Panting for Relief

We had a heat wave recently, and it snuck up on me. It stays cool in our house, so when I stepped out to run to the supermarket I wasn’t prepared for the heat inside the car I wanted to use.

Which was my first mistake—after giving in to the hounds, who watch my preparations to leave and crowd my knees at the door, begging to go. I herded the canines into the vehicle that had been sitting in the sun, and as soon as we hit the road  it was time to roll down the windows. (more…)

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Coopers Hawks

I’ve seen the hawks in our neighborhood more often lately. At first glance and moderate distance I always assume they are red-tailed hawks, just because red-tails are the most common. With the wide open areas of the former naval air station runways nearby, it’s good red-tail habitat.

And then I noticed the body shape, long and lanky, with short wings, and I realized it’s a sharpy or a Cooper’s.    (more…)

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