Cone Free

Our dog Ellie rolls in the grass while holding her favorite toy, baby hedgehog, in our backyard in Portland Oregon on August 31, 2009. Original: _MG_6270.cr2

After a week of house rest Ellie is doing much better. She’s finished her meds, the plastic cone has come off, and she resumed her walks a couple of days ago. The vet wants us to hold off a bit on allowing her to run or play rough, which means hedgehog time has been curtailed except for times like these when she lays on her back and waits for me to wrestle it from her mouth (these pictures are from before she hurt her leg).

Ellie is very anxious to be active again. While I was watching football the other day and working on my laptop, somehow baby hedgehog kept landing on my keyboard. I’d look over at Ellie and she had a look that said “I don’t know how that got that there, but since it is, let’s play!”. I’d get her to lay down with it, but a short while later hedgehog was back on my keyboard. The battle went on and on until I eventually put hedgehog in the closet.

Soon, Ellie, soon.

Our dog Ellie rolls in the grass while chewing her favorite toy, baby hedgehog, in our backyard in Portland Oregon on August 31, 2009. Original: _MG_6278.cr2

Synchronized Preening

An adult American beaver preens and shows off its large flat tail in the early morning light at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in May 2006

Early one morning on Mother’s Day, I stopped along the auto tour at Ridgefield to watch wood ducks in a quiet channel. A sudden dark form in the water caught my attention, I hoped for a beaver but knew it was more likely a nutria, the most commonly seen of the large rodents. Muskrat frequent the area as well but it was too large to be a muskrat.

My first impression from the size and shape of the head was that it probably was a beaver. There was little doubt left when its large, round form emerged onto the far bank, and no doubt remained when its broad flat tail finally came out of the water. I was feeling pretty blessed, watching the beaver preening, when a second dark shape swam onto the scene. To my delight, a smaller beaver climbed up onto the bank next to the large one and began grooming itself before finally snuggling up to the larger beaver.

Upon getting home, I learned that there is no difference in size between beaver sexes, but that the young often stay with the parents for the first couple of years, so this is most likely parent and child. I don’t know the sex of the older beaver, but given the day, I’d like to think they were mother and child.

An adult and a juvenile American beaver preen side-by-side in the early morning light at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in May 2006

Radio Free Ellie

Our dog Ellie wears an Elizabethan collar after she sprained her ankle on September 21, 2009. Original: _MG_6406.cr2

The riverdog came tumbling down,
Now a cone adorns her crown.

Ellie’s training has advanced far enough that this summer I’ve been letting her off-leash in appropriate areas. One of our favorite things to do is to head to nearby Kelley Point Park, where the Willamette River gently flows into the Columbia. There are a number of places along the trail with beach access, so Ellie can (dog) paddle the rivers that Lewis & Clark once paddled.

The last few visits I’ve brought a tennis ball and our riverdog just loves to chase it, either in the shallow water next to the beach or out into the deeper water where she can swim. We weren’t able to go a week ago because of a Hempfest (she’s already got a permanent case of the munchies), but this past Sunday we took advantage of the lovely afternoon for another visit. After about an hour of play, she came up limp so I decided it was a good time to head home. She does this whenever her foot lands on something unexpected so I wasn’t concerned, she was soon walking normally on the path back to the car and played vigorously in the evening.

By morning however she was limping noticeably and constantly licking her paw. My wife took her to the vet and it looks like she may have rather painfully sprained her ankle, she’s on painkillers and has to wear this cone to keep her from licking the troublesome paw.

Ellie joins some fine company of pets in cones, Templeton wore a similar hard plastic one while Emma’s was flexible cloth. This picture exaggerates the size of the cone, it doesn’t stick out much farther than her nose, but it reminded me of a radio transmitter, sending out Radio Free Ellie on all channels.

Mac OS X 10.7

A close-up view of a paw of our cat Sam as he sleeps in the cat tree on July 18, 2009. Original: _MG_5983.cr2

I’m pretty excited.

It’s not often that I get to break big news here on the blog, particularly not in relation to my favorite computer company. But today I get to announce the code name for the next release of Mac OS X. As you probably know, Apple has been using cat names since they first introduced OS X:

Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah
Mac OS X 10.1 Puma
Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar
Mac OS X 10.3 Panther
Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger
Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard
Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

So it comes as no surprise that they are continuing the theme for 10.7:

Mac OS X 10.7 Samwise

You might question Apple’s thinking, going from the big predators to sweet little Sam, but only if you’ve never had to give him his flea treatment. I understand it’s not pleasant to have something squirted on your back, but Sam reacts as though I’m pouring battery acid down his spine.

The claws come out and my blood flows.

Frosted Buffalo

An American bison bull relaxes in a meadow near the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park

As I drove into Yellowstone in the fall of 2007, I stopped to photograph an elk bull that was sleeping in a meadow. As I got back to the car, I noticed this bison bull laying down across the Madison River, its back frosted white by the dirt it must have been wallowing in.

A Cheer for the Ages

Our cats Sam and Scout sniff the purple coneflower in the backyard of our house in Portland, Oregon on August 31, 2009. Original: _MG_6325.cr2

Two, three, five, eight,
All our pets are really great!

Three, four, six, nine,
Next year they’ll be just as fine!

Snuggle buddies and flower aficionados Sam and Scout enjoy my favorite flower in our garden, the purple coneflower. Sam and Scout play the role of two and eight in today’s cheer, Sam turned two last month and Scout turned eight in the spring.

Look Out Hedgehog, There’s a New Hedgehog in Town

Our dog Ellie playing with her baby hedgehog toy in the backyard of our house in Portland, Oregon on August 31, 2009. Original: _MG_6280.cr2

We bought first one hedgehog, then another, but never bothered to check if they were male or female. And so it came to pass that we now have four hedgehogs, the two adults plus two new babies.

One of the babies is stretched out like a dachshund, which is not so much a natural condition in hedgehogs as much as a result of what happens when a 70 lb. dog is constantly chomping down on you. The other hedgehog is normally shaped, just smaller than the adults, and is Ellie’s new favorite to the point that she won’t play with the others. The baby hedgehog fits more easily in her mouth, allowing her to squeak it mercilessly without interrupting her play.