Cute Animals for Scary Times

Really, I do understand why people are being cautious these days. The rate of coronavirus infections in Milam County has skyrocketed. I have been limiting where I go, and even wearing my mask to cross the street. I ordered a lot of new masks today, too, since I’m wearing them more and getting them dirty.

Question mark butterfly
This question mark butterfly is stunningly beautiful, and was right outside my office door.

My family and the companies I am affiliated with are all being very careful. There have been two people die who work for my Austin employer, though I do not know what caused it. Sure makes you pause and want to hug your loved ones, though you can’t.

Sleeping white dog
For the past three nights, Carlton has been lying on top of me until I get to sleep. Dogs are so loving.

What I can do is tell you some fun/mildly interesting stories about animals and share some pictures! Okay!

A house finch nest
Mama Finch says she likes it on THIS side.

First, all the birds around our Cameron offices have been continuing their festival of babies. The mockingbirds finally left their parents this week. I miss them, but Lee says now we have a carport squirrel. The swallows are down to two babies who are about ready to fledge. And the every-valiant house finches re-built their nest on the OTHER side of the garage and are sitting on eggs.

I love that nature just keeps plugging along. Some things just don’t change.

One thing that doesn’t change is Alfred and his abundance of hair. We had him pretty well cleaned out, but yesterday we noticed Harvey was getting lots of hair out of him. So, Kathleen sat and patiently removed hair for about ten minutes, before Alfred ran out of patience.

Large pile of dog hair and two dogs
I’m not sure I like this…

The rest of the night, if Kathleen even LOOKED like she was heading toward him, he ran away. Not much makes him run. We laughed a lot, and laughing is good. I hope some day we can work on his other side!

A jackrabbit in Milam County, Texas
Just chillin in the pasture.

I got a new animal sighting today, too! I saw my first jackrabbit in Milam County, right on the ranch. Someone had said they saw a really big bunny, so I think this was the one. Those are some big ears, but I felt a lot better with my ID when a couple of local friends confirmed my sighting. I am happy to see them and hope their population grows.

In horse news, Apache is walking close to normally, for which we are all very grateful. He, Fiona, and Big Red the chicken are all getting tired of living in the tiny pen not sure why Big Red is always there, but maybe she thinks shes part of the herd.

Big Red, Apache, and Fiona
Good morning. We would like to eat now.
Ginger the chicken
I did not ask for a husband.

And in bird news, the guinea fowl are growing like crazy, and the new chickens are, too. The ladies are growing in their combs. Clarence, the newest rooster, has not won over Ginger and Bertie Lee yet, but its getting better every day. Thank goodness!

We think Bruce is about to get his crow going, which will be fun. At the moment he makes some funny sounds we cannot really identify.

So, that is the non-COVID news from around here. Office update soon!

Carlton the Dogman-niversay

My memories on Facebook told me that it was two years ago today that I brought a little white dog home to be my buddy and go back and forth to Austin with me.

I’m skinny and squinty.

Carlton the Dogman is no longer little, and he stays at the ranch. Still, he’s my dear buddy. I love the way his little pink nose feels when he says hi, and the evenings we spend in my chair are real treasures.

I’m a genius! I come when I’m called. Usually.

He has hobbies. Mainly they are swimming in muddy water and playing with cows. The cows totally love him and pay him no heed. He just likes it when they all group together.

I’m disguised as a Dalmatian. See my spots?

He has finally stopped jumping on me, but he still has a barking issue. He barks to try to get the other dogs to play, mainly. He has way more energy than the others, which explains why he’s so skinny.

I love you, too, Mommy.

We’ve loved having Carlton as part of our pack. He seems to be able to see just fine, even with his weird eyes, so we think he’ll be around a long time.

Bloom Where You’re Planted

Those of you who haven’t been quarantined your whole lives have probably heard this saying before. It’s the first thing that popped into my head when I saw that today’s UU Lent word is bloom.

Let’s see how to do that. Image by @dmotif via Twenty20.

It being spring in glorious central Texas, you see blossoms everywhere. They look especially vibrant this year, since it’s been cloudy or rainy most of the time, and there is a lot of very green grass to contrast with it. I don’t think they are what I’m going to talk about today.

Bloom is a verb. When a plant blooms, it puts all its energy into reaching out to other plants, insects, birds, and animals. It sends pollen out to make seeds. Then the females put even more energy into taking what they got and making fruit.

That’s how I see the idea of blooming where you’re planted. Just like a plant, we don’t get to choose where we do our growing. Some of us get nice rich soil and lots of nurturing, others of us get placed on the sidewalks of life.

Burr clover can bloom on the driveway.

Right now a lot of us are planted in an isolated place. I’m even in a basement, for heaven’s sake. What is helping me a lot is taking the situation I’m in and learning from it. While I’m all cozy in here, I’m thinking of ways to be a better person, do my work better, and contribute to my community.

Blue-eyed grass is one of my favorite signs of spring at the ranch.
I’m planted right here, Mommy. I’ll bloom later, okay? I’m also metaphorically exhausted.

When I bloom, I’ll be able to make the best possible flower, and we can all do that, no matter where we’re starting from. You take what you’re given and make the best of it, or not, I guess.

Let’s hope that the fruit we eventually make from all the introspecting, preparation, and hard work we are doing to grow and bloom will be sweet, nutritious, and strong, so we can plant more ideas.

I’m metaphorically worn out now. Are you? What do you think about when you think of blooming?

A Year of Carlton the Dogman

Facebook is good for something: This morning it reminded me that I found my precious doggie Carlton a year ago today. Time really flies, doesn’t it? Some of you may know this story, but I’ll share it in Carlton’s honor.

I was such a cute puppy. I deserve honors.

I was really missing having a dog to hang out with when I was in Austin, and I wanted to help out a sad dog, so Mandi, Anita, and I started looking around for a small-ish dog who could go back and forth from Austin to the Hermits’ Rest with me.

My experience at Austin Pets Alive was really sad. The only dog that wasn’t a pit mix was scared to death of people.

I found me a puppy!

We kept watching the Cameron dog pound for likely suspects, when three puppies came in. All three were friendly and sweet, but the white one with blue eyes looked to me like he’d stay smaller. I took him out for a walk, and he was SO friendly. Sandra at the pound (now known as A Touch of Love) was sure he’d be a small dog, and I was smitten by his cuddliness.

Continue reading “A Year of Carlton the Dogman”

A Digression on Dog Genetics, Part 2

eye_chart
Here’s Carlton, really wanting to get out of the doctor’s office. This photo is the best one to show he has pale tan ears.

Yesterday, I shared some information on Carlton the puppy’s “weird eyes.” Today I’d like to document some of the things I learned about how he got to be “the world’s whitest dog.” (And, FYI he weighs 31 pounds now, which makes me think he will probably end up the size of his companions Brody and Harvey, though perhaps less bulky.)

I think that he has a whammo combination of THREE genes that make him pale. I learned a lot, thanks to a great collection of information on dog color genetics by Jess Chappell for a lot of this, along with the doggie eye problem reading I did from the veterinary opthalmomogist’s textbook (see references).

Carlton is not an albino

Nope, he is not an albino. Albinism is not found often in dogs like it is in bunnies, rats, and humans. There are a LOT of genes that can make a dog white, though. I won’t go into detail (you can read it in the links below), but I’ll share some ideas.

Is he a double merle?

At least two veterinarians who have examined Carlton have posited that his coloring is due to being a double merle. What’s that, you ask?

merle
This is a cute little merle dachsund named Maggie, owned by my friend Mandi.

First, merle is a beautiful pattern that occurs in a number of dog breeds (I list some at the end of this article). The base color of the coat is beautifully dappled, and people like it a lot. It will show up if just one parent has the gene (it’s dominant).

Continue reading “A Digression on Dog Genetics, Part 2”

A Digression on Dog Genetics, Part 1

carlton_sit
You can see Carlton’s markings in this photo. The very pale markings around his ears are hard to see, but there.

My lovely puppy, Carlton, is 6.5 months old, as far as we can tell. He weigs 31 pounds, and is all legs and teeth at this point. He loves other dogs, warms up to people, and is generally the best puppy ever. He also has “weird eyes,” as one of our veterinarians put it. She advised that we check with a veterinary opthalmologist as soon as possible.

That visit came on Tuesday, and it’s sent me down a long path of figuring out exactly how Carlton got to be who he is, and why. I wrote up some of this on Facebook, but since then I’ve been doing a lot more research, and as a person who once considered majoring in biology, I found it really fascinating. In fact, writing up my findings is so complex that I am going to break it into more than one post.

Vet visit findings

The regular vet had diagnosed Carlton as having some kind of eye abnormality, in addition to being blue, so she sent me to the veterinary ophthalmologist to see what’s up. This is the same woman, Dr. Yu-Speight, I went to when my corgi, Gwynneth’s eyes went bad (she ended up having them removed and lived 4 more years). We had a wonderful visit.

First of all, Carlton was quite the little man through the whole appointment. He even jumped into the car on command, finally! I am so proud of this dog. He was incredibly well behaved until we got back home, when he went bonkers.

There was a great deal of eye prodding and dropping involved, but they tested everything from tears, to pressure in the eye to the insides. So, he dealt with many substances and implements. I was amazed at his patience, even though he was obviously not enjoying the process.

Sure enough, his eyes are not “normal,” which we knew. But he CAN see, better in darker light, which we also knew.

Continue reading “A Digression on Dog Genetics, Part 1”