Joyful Dog

Our 16 year old yellow lab dog died not long before we moved to our new place, so we moved with only our 12 year old black “who knows what” dog. We went from two dogs, to one dog, from homes on 1/8 of an acre of land to homes on 20 acres of land, from a landscape of mostly concrete, asphalt and lawns, to natural undisturbed hi-desert “landscape”, from traffic noise to almost absolute quiet.

We also went from him always being a on a leash when not in the back yard to him being on a leash only at night when he can disappear into the darkness and from seldom being able to be in the car to nearly always being able to ride in the car.

I love it. My wife loves it. Our dog loves it.

It is amazing watching the dog wander about the land. There have been a lot of monsoon rains and the grasses/desert plants are tall and green. If he gets more than a few yards from me, all I usually see is his tail sticking up in the air. Sometimes he trots, sometimes he runs full speed, sometimes he stops…checking the P-mail, most likely.

This morning, a grasshopper caught his attention. I could hear the grasshopper as it flew and I could see the dog run after the grasshopper. Every now and again, the dog would jump in the air, snapping at (and missing) the grasshopper as it flew. Eventually he lost track of the grasshopper and he went back to just exploring.

Yesterday afternoon it was a small toad and later a Pinacate Beetle. He wasn’t sure what to do about the toad, so he just stood there watching it. The toad’s instincts–stay very still and the threat will go away–were correct. Eventually interest in the toad was lost and his attention turned to the beetle. The beetle did it’s customary “stand on its head” maneuver, which got the dog’s attention. A couple of tip overs due to nudges from the dog’s nose, caused the beetle to spray some stinky and mildly irritating, but harmless, liquid. The dog jumped back and the beetle scurried away. I think the spray must have lingered in his nose as we immediately went back to the house. When he saw another beetle this morning, he stood back from the beetle and just watched as the beetle scurried along about it’s business.

Yet Another Reason to Run


This morning, shortly after I finished running along my favorite trail, I just happened to look up into a nearby tree and I saw two owls….the bottom half of the second owl is in the upper left corner of the image.

I slowly walked away from where I was standing and I went home to collect the DSLR camera…all the cell phone camera image would have shown was a tree.

Obviously, the owls were still there when I returned.

I didn’t want to disturb them, so I brought my  43X spotting scope (equivalent to a 2100mm lens) with an adapter to attach it to my camera.

The lens arrangement makes the camera “manual everything” and the image is not as “clean” as a regular (expensive) lens would provide, but it’s good enough to show off what I was privileged to see this morning.

They were about 100 yards from the only picnic table at the trail head parking lot and I used the table to support my tripod, so I don’t think I unduly disturbed them.  Even so, I was being watched!

250 yards (230 meters) away is a very busy divided highway with three lanes each way and a 65mph/100kph speed limit.  The passing motorists, hidden away in their cars, likely had no idea of what they were missing.