Categories
Animals

Puggle

Yesterday, I learned that a baby Spiny Anteater is called a “puggle.”

To me, “puggle” conjurs up images of cuddly, snuggly creatures, perhaps with some downy feathers or soft fur. This is not the case with a Spiny Anteater puggle.

Spiny Anteater puggles look a little like an elephant, grey with a long snout. They have short, stubby legs, webbed feet, a round belly, and round eyes. They have smooth skin; their fur and spines grow in as they age.

Puggles are not classically cute animals. Nevertheless, they are cute in their own baby way.

How could anything called a puggle not be adorable?

Categories
Animals Nature

Bears

We’re all coping in the best ways we can during these crazy times. Perhaps this info will provide a bit of happiness and bring a smile.

Today is the start the annual Fat Bear Week, sponsored by Katmai National Park & Preserve.

Fat Bear Week celebrates the Katmai bears and their preparations for hibernation. They’ve been gorging themselves on salmon and berries for months in anticipation of the long, cold months ahead. Now, it’s time to determine which one will wear the Fat Bear crown.

Voting happens here: https://explore.org/fat-bear-week

More info about Katmai National Park & Preserve can be found here: https://www.nps.gov/katm/learn/news/fat-bear-week-2020.htm

Here’s to fat bears and celebrating the lighthearted moments in life.

Categories
Animals Family Pets

Wishbone

If you raised children in the 90s, chances are you know about Wishbone.

For those who aren’t familiar with Wishbone, here’s the deal: Wishbone is a Jack Russell Terrier (dog) who goes on literary adventures. He dresses up like the characters in the stories and tells the tales by acting out various parts. He’s done Rip Van Winkle, Don Quixote, Romeo and Juliet…you get the picture.

The show, which aired on PBS, was a clever and creative way to introduce young children to the Classics, fun for them and interesting enough for adults to endorse without feeling like time was being wasted.

My oldest son adored Wishbone. We watched every episode, sometimes multiple times. This was in the Time Before YouTube and Netflix and Streaming, so we had to plan to tune in. We’d sit together on the couch, and the show would start, and we’d sing along with the theme song (“What’s the story, Wishbone? What’s this you’re dreaming of?”). And then we’d enjoy the show, learning something new while giggling at Wishbone’s antics and costumes.

Sadly, the original Wishbone died several years ago. I’ve heard, however, that somebody’s making a Wishbone movie. It won’t be exactly the same, of course, but it will probably (hopefully) capture the same sweet, engaging spirit as the tv show.

Perhaps my son and I will watch it together, this time with our own Jack Russell Terrier (mix) snuggled on the couch with us. Or maybe not; he’s a grownup, has his own life now, and Wishbone may not hold the same nostalgic appeal for him as it does for me. That’s okay, that’s how life works sometimes.

Either way, watching with my son or watching alone, I’ll do my best not to give into the temptation to dress our pup, Mollie, like a literary character. I’ll give Wishbone his moment, make him the focus.

Mollie looks pretty cute in costumes and hats, however, so I’m not making any promises.

Categories
Animals

Kittens

On a scale of Meh to Squeeeee, kittens rank at Squeeeee Plus for me. I suspect I’m not alone in this opinion.

Today is National Kitten Day.

There will likely be more than the usual number of kitten pictures and videos popping up on social media sites (especially since, as we all know, cats actually control the interwebs). We may hear fun news reports about kittens. Our neighbors might talk about kittens. We might get emails about kittens. It might be kittens, kittens everywhere.

We may not be able to escape the kitten mania today. I’m okay with this possibility.

While we’re enjoying the fluffy floofiness, it’s also a good time to consider how to support our local animal shelters and other organizations that care for abandoned or sick cats and kittens. One of my favorites is the Lanai Cat Sanctuary, but there are many others that provide these kinds of services. They appreciate every penny, hour, or bag of kibble that is donated.

Happiness can often be found in soft purrs and tiny meows. Let the squeeeees begin.

Categories
Animals Nature Pets

Squirrel

Yesterday evening, my husband reported a close encounter with a backyard bomber.

He and Mollie were out in the yard, doing yard things, when something hit him from above. He first thought it was a branch falling off a tree and didn’t pay much attention. But then, it happened again. This time, he noticed that it was a little piece of the tree, not a nut like an acorn or pecan, but a similar type of tree bloom.

Then, it happened again.

At that point, he looked up and saw…a squirrel.

Mr. Squirrel was sitting in the branches above him, throwing pieces of the tree at him.

My husband yelled at Mr. Squirrel. Mr. Squirrel smirked and chattered in his squirrel language (which, if you listen closely, sounds a lot like laughter). He then went on his way, up into the higher branches, most likely to tell his squirrel friends about his amusing backyard adventures.

My husband then looked over at Mollie, who was watching it all play out. She looked back at him.

If dogs could shrug, she would have. If dogs could talk, she would have said, “Dude. Every day. Why do you think I bark so much? I’ve been trying to warn you. Squirrels, man. Let’s go inside.”

Categories
Animals Good

Llemonade

It’s Friday; let’s start the weekend with a happy Llama story.

In southwest Wales, A Llama named Max is assisting in the delivery of food packages to people who are social distancing. The area has roads that can be difficult for trucks to travel on, and Max has turned out to be a helpful (and eco-friendly) solution.

The locals are delighted by the delivery experience. Max is enjoying the exercise and the attention. As the saying goes, lemons to lemonade. Or in this case, llemonade.

Here’s a cuppa of appreciation for you, Max. Carry on.

Categories
Animals Good

Dogs

The University of Pennsylvania recently started a program to train dogs to detect COVID-19 in humans. Similar programs are underway in other countries.

Dog noses have up to 300 million scent detectors (humans have around six million). These sensitive snouts allow them to sniff out volatile organic compounds created by certain cells.

Trainers hope that the first group of COVID-19 sniffing dogs will be ready to go to work by July. They can then help with detecting the virus in asymptomatic people, which may aid in efforts to minimize public exposure to the illness.

I’m sure those good doggos would appreciate some treats. I can’t give them one, but I can dedicate today’s cuppa to them. Here’s to the 1,000,000,000 reasons – and now one more – that dogs make the world a better place.

Categories
Animals Good

Hero

There’s a Llama named Winter who may end up being the hero we need.

Humans have one type of antibody. Llamas have two. One of those is smaller than human antibodies.

Scientists have had success using those smaller antibodies to fight against viruses such as MERS and SARS. They’ve seen similar results in COVID-19 cell cultures, using Winter’s antibodies.

Much more work is needed, but the scientists are moving toward clinical trials. The hope is that, although a permanent cure is unlikely, a vaccine could offer the ability to protect from infection for several months.

Even if Winter does end up being a hero, I doubt that she’ll ever have a building named after her, or be given a medal, or that we’ll celebrate an annual holiday in her honor. But I can certainly dedicate a cuppa to her today.

Categories
Animals Nature

Possum

A possum has taken up residence in our backyard.

Husband and son discovered Mr. Possum yesterday. He was asleep under some broken wood.

Today’s cuppa reflects our human reaction, not Mr. Possum’s. Mr. P simply blinked, shifted to a more comfortable position, and then resumed his nap. He might also have rolled his eyes a bit at these crazy humans who were so amazed that nature was doing its thing right in our own backyard, but that’s not confirmed.

Possums eat rodents, snakes, and bugs, including roaches. Now that the initial freak-out is over, I’m ok with the arrangement. Welcome to your new home, neighbor.

Categories
Animals Nature

Hibernation

Today’s cuppa is a nod to my current feelings of kinship with the Hibernators.

As we all likely remember from science class, hibernation typically occurs during winter and is a means of conserving energy and resources. The most common example of hibernating animals is bears, who bulk up during the autumn months and then hunker down in their dens to sleep through the cold.

What isn’t as well known is that forms of hibernation can also occur throughout other times of the year and in a wide variety of animal species. Hibernation instincts may be triggered anytime resources are scarce. For example, there are some species of fish that hibernate if their lakes dry up.

When the circumstances improve, and it’s safe and wise to emerge, hibernation ends…until triggered again by the instinctive recognition that hibernating is the best option for self – and species – preservation.

Here’s to the animals that adapt to the environment by chilling out and hunkering down. I’m doing my best to respect the lesson that nature is offering me.