Category Archives: Critters

“Hey, Nice Doll-Fins…”

Summer is just around the corner, and beachcombers are making their vacation plans to slather on the sunscreen, collect shells along the shore and delight at dolphin sightings on the distant horizon.

I recently read an interesting scientific article about the social networking of these ethereal creatures. It seems they have their own little networking community deep under that deep cerulean sea where males and females court each other and build alliances. Sound familiar? I’m thinking Facebook for Muculent Mammals. I’m also thinking these relationships may be deserving of their own reality show.

One of the reasons for these alliances and friendships among dolphins, scientists say, is that all this socializing sets the stage for their biggest goal: the race to reproduce. Yeah, this is all sounding very familiar.

Let me set the stage for this reality show I’m envisioning based on these scientists’ theories. I can’t help but visualize the set – a big, noisy underwater night club filled with slithery, silver, male dolphins standing around the bar with their bro network as they team up in duos or trios (what scientists call the “first-level alliance”) to support each other as they surround and woo an unsuspecting female. They say this makes it harder for the female dolphin to race away. But as they surround her, I can just imagine one brave bottlenose [reads script] saying, “Hey, baby, nice snout. Wanna go out?” Ew. And with that, she bolts [stage left], leaving him and his useless buddies drowning in her wake.

But, then, the plot thickens. An outsider male – who has had one too many Seaweed Stingers – makes an attempt to steal said female. This, in turn, causes the first group of dolphin dudes to join forces with other groups. (This is known as the “second-level alliance”). I believe in human-speak, this is called “misery loves company.”

Animal behaviorists say a trio of dolphins under attack will seek help from their other buddies. “Hey, Slick, you got my back?” At this point, the second-level alliance will receive help from yet another group of male dolphins, now forming a “third-level” alliance. (Phew! These guys just never give up, do they?) The testosterone level in this watering hole is now at an all-time high.

Scientists say the effort it takes to keep track of these shifting alliances helps explain why dolphins have such large brains. Perhaps this is where humans differ, as the only thing becoming large at this point is a guy’s…um, dorsal fin?

As for the scientific observation of female dolphins, it seems having a strong network of female relatives and friends helps them rear healthy calves. Apparently, dolphin calves survive longer if Mommy Dearest Dolphin has some bffs that have also raised calves. And where’s Daddy Dolphin in all this? [See below] I guess he thinks he’s done his part since he’s already conquered his catch. So the Ya-Ya Sisterhood is now paramount to the success of rearing the cute little dolphinettes. It seems hanging out with the girls is also a protective mechanism, because their young calves can be easy prey for sharks. These mamas may seem sweet and reserved, but mess with their kids and they’ll show you seven kinds of crazy.

This all leads to the male dolphins once again revisiting The Dolphin Den. Off they go again to assemble their multi-layered alliances, check out the pretty new clientele, and see who they can attempt to woo this time. Either that, or they’re just there to watch the latest Porpoise Playoffs.

Stay tuned for season two of this series…

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What’s it All About, Alfie?

I miss having a dog.  I don’t miss having a dog.  My evil twin sister and I can’t seem to come to an understanding on this.  We change my mind on this topic as often as we change my underwear.

Watching those sappy commercials with robust, romping puppies licking your face with their puppy breath doesn’t help this canine craving of mine.  Ever since we downgraded from a spacious suburban home complete with a yard to a townhouse with stairs on steroids, we have tried to be responsible pet owners by not subjecting a dog to our postage stamp yard and hip-throbbing stairs.  But I do miss having a dog.

We’ve had Old English Sheepdogs since our first day of marriage…three to be exact.  Their docile, protective nature made them perfect for families with small children.  As shaggy as they were, they didn’t shed, and watching them watching you from under their fluffy bangs would melt even the most hardened of hearts. So I do miss having the sweet-natured, goofy companion…oh, wait a minute.  Hold on, sister.

Oh, yeah. I forgot about the time that we asked my brother-in-law to dog-sit when we went on vacation one winter.  Alfie (sheepdog number two) was to have none of it.  He sat there, brave and ever so statuesque as we left, with a twinkle in his eye assuring us that he would be on his best behavior.  You should have known trouble was brewing. 

My brother-in-law proceeded to build a nice, warm, crackling fire and bunker down for an impending snowstorm.  But upon returning to the house the next day, he was met by none other than Blackbeard himself.  Alfie had dragged each charred log out of the cold fireplace, down the hallway and into the master bedroom.  But there he sat, angelic as ever, except for the tell-tale paws full of soot and beard covered in black.  I don’t miss having a dog.

But looking at photos of my children napping in the crook of their furry stretched-out arms as they lay on the floor brings back a flood of good memories that whirl up in me every time I pass a humane shelter, and I want to take every one of them home….not so fast, sister.

It is then that I recall the time I came home from an exhausting day at work and kicked off my 3-inch heels.  (Flats and comfy shoes were a no-no in office attire back then.) I noticed a trail of my shoes, damaged and chewed until they were almost indistinguishable. Deja (sheepdog number three) had managed to consume and destroy seven pairs of shoes.  Not matching shoes, mind you, but one shoe from each pair! I don’t miss having a dog.

But I’m thankful that my children were raised by these canine Mary Poppins, and they had a chance to learn how to be kind to animals and to take care of their needs as much as they took care of ours. The life lesson alone was worth every dastardly deed.

For now, my little parakeet will have to do.  He sings to me every morning, doesn’t talk back, and I always get the remote.  And I have lots and lots of shoes…

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No Bones About It

On a nice Sunday drive heading out to the countryside, we often pass this one development of mcmansions that we have dubbed “the golf course of the rich and famous.” Tiger doesn’t live there, but all the Tiger wannabe’s and have-a-lots obviously do.

Although I realize these are probably very hard working people who have earned the right to live in these echoing, cavernous castles to house their nannies, humvees and 1.2 children, it’s hard not to think that some of the residents may have been born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

But according to a recent story in the local news rag, their silver spoons are now dripping with buffalo dung.  Yes, you heard me.  Buffalo.  Seems Old McDonald, whose farm is located on the opposite side of Green Acres, has more than 60 buffalo grazing on his grounds. A picture perfect setting, normally, for those who want to live in a modern upscale cookie cutter neighborhood, yet still have vistas of forests, animals and simple country folk.  It may somehow make them feel better for the guilt they harbor after purchasing the giiinormous home from the builder who slaughtered all the trees and distorted the countryesque landscape.

All has been quiet and peaceful in this remake of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms until the snowpocalypse this winter, when seven of Old McDonald’s buffalo died due to the harsh elements. And as any earth-loving  farmer would do, he promptly moved the carcasses to the edge of his property, where they were left in their communal, natural state to rest in Georgia O’Keefe Heaven….right on the border of the 17th hole.

Buffalo skulls may be inspirational to some of the local artists, but I don’t think this is what the Joneses had in mind whilst out swinging their clubs on a sunny day while breathing in the stench of decaying buffalo carcasses and tripping over cloven-hoofed artifacts. And the once twinkling, babbling brook bordering their manors now has the residents wondering about their water supply.

Although the public water safety people have assured them that the water control system is completely adequate and their water is safe for drinking, this may give future builders pause before erecting fortresses next to Old MacDonald’s barns and ruminant bovine.

I can just hear him mumbling as he wanders back to his simple farmhouse with that piece of hay dangling from his mouth, “Hole in one. I win. You lose.”

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Saving a Buck at Walmart

nutriaJust when I thought our Walmart had scored in the Guiness Book of World Records for one of the skankiest, dirtiest retail outlets in the nation, a store in Louisiana just gave them a run for their money.

Apparently, workers there have known about, and adjusted to, some furry personnel running around their store. Norman, aka Bucky Beaver, is an 18-pound nutria, similar to a giant hairy rat slash small buck-toothed beaver.

An article describes how it jumped from behind a Coke machine and scared the ba-jeezus out of some poor woman, who then rammed her cart full ‘o bargains in reverse and ran over her own foot, breaking bones in her toes.

What amazes me in the article is that they just had to throw in that “she suffers from panic attacks,” (the woman, not the rat) as if that is Walmart’s defense for letting skanky, foul-smelling bear sized rodents traverse through their aisles without warning patrons that they could be in for a wicked walk through the wilderness, and to make sure what they felt weren’t no pelt…

I’ve always sat out in the car in protest whenever The Mister goes into our Walmart to pick up a few things. The mine field alone that you have to go through in the parking lot full of trash is enough to get me to yank my hair clip out of my hair and park it on my nose. Not to mention I took French in high school….

Guess next time I’ll also have to remind The Mister that if he comes across something with bright orange buck teeth to slowly “step awayyyyy from the registerrrrr.”

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R.I.P Dakota

 

Dakota

“And beloved master, when I grow old and the time comes to say farewell, hold me gently in your arms and I will go without a whimper. For with you I am safe and secure. A dog who gave love and received it with a grateful heart.”

— Phylis Feiner Johnson

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