Categories
Animals Nature

Joey

It appears that we have a family of opossums living in our backyard shed.

Several times, my husband and I’ve seen a full-grown opossum walking on the fence top, away from the shed and toward our garden, in the early evening. My husband suggested that we put apple slices in the yard, which made sense to me. We reasoned that opossums are helpful in keeping bugs away, but we’d also like to hang on to any tomatoes and peppers that survive the summer’s blazing heat. A tasty snack could be a win/win for humans and marsupials.

Then this morning, we found a small opossum in our trash can not far from the shed. Based on size, it is not far from babyhood. We gently tipped the can on its side and placed a few apple slices on the path to entice baby opossum out.

A baby opossum is called a joey. As of this writing, our Joey is still in the trash can, unwilling to leave. I suppose staring humans makes it nervous, so we’ll leave Joey alone for a bit and hope that it makes its way back home. And now, on trash days, we’ll be sure to check the cans before taking them to the curb.

Today’s cuppa summarizes our initial feelings about finding Joey and, perhaps, Joey’s feelings about being discovered. There’s no reason we can’t get along, however, as long as we share a few apple slices and enough space for roaming.

Categories
Animals Life

Comfort

It’s common knowledge that dogs can bring comfort. Snuggling with a friendly pup can erase – or, at least, mitigate – stress, fear, anger, and sadness.

There are organizations dedicated to this truth, bringing trained “comfort dogs” to hospitals, natural disasters, and other difficult situations. The people in these groups recognize that domesticated dogs instinctively want – and want to provide – trusted companionship. They thrive through connection and the giving and receiving of affection.

One of these groups, the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry, was present yesterday morning as children returned to school in Uvalde, Texas. The group brought ten golden retrievers to support the students, educators, and families. The dogs will be in Uvalde for the next few weeks, helping the community through the trauma they’ve experienced.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time the comfort dogs have been to the site of a school shooting. It’s also unlikely that it will be the last. Amidst the finger-pointing and polarization, this is the painful, shameful reality of things today.

In most ways, humans are the smarter species. We train dogs; dogs obey us. Sometimes, however, humans aren’t the smart ones. Sometimes, dogs are more adept at figuring things out. Simple doesn’t necessarily mean stupid.

Fortunately, we humans do have the capacity to learn and improve. I choose to believe that we can, and one day, we will. Until then, here’s to the comfort dogs, their instinctive wisdom, and the help they give to those who need it.

Categories
Animals Life Nature

Coyotes

Early this morning, before the sun was up, I heard the sound of coyotes, yipping and yapping and howling. They weren’t directly outside of my house, but they were close.

It’s the second time this week I’ve heard them. So, we are now at Coyotecon level 5, meaning that the pups are supervised in the yard, even for short periods of time, and the cats aren’t permitted out at all.

Most likely, the full-on daytime hours are safe; coyotes aren’t typically active when the sun is up. And, we live in a typical suburban neighborhood, with houses and fenced yards and concrete sidewalks. It’s unlikely we’d encounter a carnivorous hunter in the middle of the day. Nevertheless, a hungry coyote can’t be expected to follow the rule book.

I don’t fault coyotes for doing their coyote thing. But – coyote howls are creepy. They echo and fade, casting a warning, sending a message to those in the vicinity: fear us. Run. We have your scent; we are on your trail. I can allow for instinctive animal behavior while at the same time acknowledging the need for human precaution.

Here’s to doors and walls and the safety they provide. Here’s also to vigilance and wisdom, to watchful decision-making and careful awareness. All may be necessary when the night is full of howls.

Categories
Animals Good People

Butterball

Yesterday, I saw a news story about a woman, Sunflower Ladd, who took care of an abandoned baby squirrel after a storm. She fed it, and cuddled it, and kept it safe and warm. She named it Butterball.

Eventually, Butterball grew up, and Sunflower released it back into the wild. She figured she wouldn’t see much of Butterball ever again; after all, being a squirrel, Butterball had the life of a squirrel to live.

However, Butterball stuck around. The squirrel life is happening, but Butterball routinely comes back to visit Sunflower. Butterball and Sunflower remained friends, and that friendship continues today.

In the news story, Sunflower says, “Anything that you care for, you will develop a love for.” She also notes that, if that type of bond can exist between a human and a squirrel, creatures with worlds of differences between them, it can also exist between people…if we choose to make it happen.

Here’s to Sunflower and Butterball, their sweet (but improbable) friendship, and their simple lesson of love.

https://www.wfaa.com/article/features/the-squirrel-that-keeps-coming-back-unexpected-friendship-brings-hope-for-dallas-woman/287-b320d672-ae04-4976-943c-514c273e4600

Categories
Animals Good Pets

Rescue

According to the National Day Today calendar, today is National Rescue Dog Day.

My husband asked me if there is a difference between rescue dogs and pound puppies. It appears that there are some minor differences.

A rescue dog, according to National Rescue Dog Day information, is a dog that is in a dire situation, such as living on the streets or abandoned in some way, and ends up being rescued via an animal shelter, a foster home, or adoption. They might need serious medical care, although very often, they recover quickly and develop into healthy dogs once they are in a safe situation.

“Pound puppies” is an unofficial term for dogs that are at the animal shelter, generally healthy but also in need of fostering or adoption. They might not have been in danger, sick, or injured when they arrived, and they typically don’t require extra care once they leave the shelter.

The primary differences, therefore, seem to be in the circumstances that brought them into their current situation and what they might need to live safe and happy lives. A small difference, but a meaningful one. Most importantly, however, they’re all dogs in need of good homes. If you’re considering a furry family member addition, please start your search at your local animal shelter or rescue organization.

There’s another aspect to National Rescue Dog Day that’s relevant. Rescuing can be a two-way street. Dogs have a way of making things better; easing loneliness, making us laugh, feel loved and accepted. Bringing a shelter dog into your life doesn’t only help the animal – although, of course, that’s a vital goal. But, if you yourself are in need of a little rescue, even if it’s only from time to time, it can help you, too.

There are oodles of animal rescue organizations and shelters doing their best to care for dogs, to find them homes and connect them with medical help and other necessary resources. One of the best known is the ASPCA. If you’re in a position to give of your money and/or your time, you can find more information at https://www.aspca.org/. If you’re looking for a more specific option, such as an organization that rescues certain types of dogs or delivers specialized medical care, a quick internet search will likely give you the information you need.

Happy National Rescue Dog Day. Here’s to all the dogs who’ve made life better through their companionship and love. And, here’s to all the people who have been and still are working to rescue each and every one.


Categories
Animals Good Nature

Otters

This morning, right before I woke up, I was dreaming that I was in the water, surrounded by sea otters. They were floating all around me, quietly, on their backs. Nothing more, nothing else – we were all just floating there, together, gently bobbing in the waves.

I suspect I dreamed this dream because of an article I read yesterday about sea otter sleeping habits. Otters often sleep on land, but sometimes, they also sleep in the water, on their backs. When they do, they wrap themselves in kelp strands and (here’s the part that makes me go squeeeeee) hold hands with other otters. This keeps them together; they avoid drifting apart and away during their nap time.

My dream was very peaceful. Perhaps the next time I’m feeling anxious or concerned about something, I’ll try to remember the feeling of gently floating in the water with all the otters surrounding me; the calm quiet and soft knowledge that I was not alone, that I would not drift away.

Here’s to sea otters and their simple yet smart sleeping habits. And, here’s to tranquil dreams of bobbing waves and feelings of warm, connected togetherness.

Categories
Animals Nature

Thief

We’ve been robbed.

There were two strawberries in our garden, almost ready for picking. Now, there is only one.

I suspect that the culprit has brown fur and a bushy tail and lives in the trees surrounding our house. I also suspect that he’ll be back for the one he left behind.

It’s a bit disappointing not to be able to enjoy the fruit that’s grown in our backyard, but I’ll get over it. I simply can’t stay mad when cute and clever animals are involved.

I do hope he leaves our grapes alone, however. We have plenty of kale; he can have that instead.

Categories
Animals Fun Nature

Scurry

Yesterday, as I was watching the antics of a group of squirrels that live in our backyard trees, I realized that I didn’t know what to call them in their collective state. So, I looked it up.

A group of squirrels is called a “scurry.” Based on the way the squirrels in my yard were acting, this is an apt description.

After that, I became curious about the collective names for other groups of animals, birds, and bugs. So, I did some more investigating and found some delightful and amusing descriptions. These are a few of my favorites: A group of giraffes is a tower. A group of jellyfish is a smack. Zebras in a pack are called a zeal. And, a collection of ladybugs is called a loveliness.

Here’s to the fun of language and to watching the scurry of furry tree rodents that live in my backyard.

Categories
Animals Good

Pandas

What better way to start the week (and the month) than with Pandas playing in the snow?

Categories
Animals

Berserk

Today’s cuppa recognizes a new bit of info I learned yesterday. There’s such a thing as Berserk Llama Syndrome.

Berserk Llama Syndrome happens when a juvenile (typically male; it’s rare with females) llama imprints on humans and starts to consider them to be llamas. Upon maturity, the llama then tries to assert its dominance over the humans (other llamas, from the llama’s point of view) through aggression; biting, chest-ramming, charging, even sneaking up from behind and attacking.

Juvenile llamas typically imprint on humans when they interact with them through bottle feeding or because they are isolated from other llamas. Berserk Llama Syndrome isn’t common, and it’s not something that happens in the wild. It’s a rare, unhappy outcome of human-llama interaction.

The term Berserk Llama Syndrome is good for a chuckle; it conjures up images of llamas gone wild. But the sad reality is that the syndrome is a response to an unnatural situation, a reaction to circumstances the llama cannot control. The llama is just doing its llama thing.

Additionally sobering is the fact that there is no cure for Berserk Llama Syndrome. In severe cases, llamas exhibiting this behavior are euthanized due to the danger they pose to their human handlers.

Llamas are becoming more common on farms and ranches, joining other livestock such as sheep and horses due to the usefulness of their fur and their ability to serve as transport animals. It’s important, then, to understand llama behavior and use that information to guide the way llamas are raised and managed. A practical solution; better for llamas, better for humans.

After all, going berserk is an indication that something is off-kilter, out of whack. Prevent or eliminate the problem, and the more likely outcome is happy success. A “win-win,” as they say, for everyone and everything involved.