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Mystery Solved

>> Wednesday, July 20, 2011

This little gal?  She is the ultimate Heintz 57 mutt!

For the fun of it, I wasted a perfectly good $80 and bought a genetic test kit for our Phoebe.  I wound up going with the Wisdom Panel brand test kit purely because it tested for more breeds (185) than the other test kits we found.  It was super easy and involved taking two little cheek swabs, putting them into a prepaid mail envelope, and waiting for the e-mail telling me the results.

So, here's Wisdom Panel's answer to the mystery:
  • One parent was a Bulldog mix/Shar-Pei/German Shepherd
  • One parent was a "Rottweiler mix" 
Those "mixes" apparently also contained some of the following:

  • Chinese crested (such funny-looking little things, mostly naked and frequent winners of "ugliest dog" contests)
  • Bedlington terrier (kind of looks to me like a standard poodle but with a head shaped like a football)
  • Bull terrier
  • Miniature Schnauzer, and
  • Dachshund
You have to go back to at least her great grandparents to find a single purebred dog.  Purely from a logistical standpoint, some of those combinations are amusing.  I mean, did a Dachshund per chance mate with a Rottweiler?  And if so, er, well, how?

I can honestly say the only one of those breeds that is all apparent is the Shar-Pei.  So when people ask me "what kind of dog is she?"  I may answer "a Shar-Pei mix", which is true.  No one ever seems satisfied with the "she's a mutt" answer.  But really, what else can you rightfully call Phoebe?

I say she's all the better for her genetic cocktail.  I doubt there are too many other Phoebes out there - she's one of a kind.

Incidentally, she is also one sick little gal.  I fear she may have picked up giardia or some other bug from drinking lake water while swimming last weekend.  I detest the withholding food, bland diet, cleaning up a lot of poop, and getting no sleep process.  I bet she detests it more.  I hope either the vet today identifies the problem and provides a prompt medication solution, or the ailment passes quickly.


A little dose of Adirondacks

>> Sunday, July 17, 2011

Early last week, our friend D, who has appeared in this blog a time or two before, sent me a text message that said "Kids and I are going on a canoe trip next weekend.  Please join us!"  I immediately texted back an affirmative, and then asked my husband if it was okay with him, hoping fervently he had no objection.

I took off work on Friday, packed us up, and Spouse got off work early.  I gave Phoebe anti-nausea meds (that worked!  hooray!) and we then made our way to the Adirondacks to Follensby Clear Pond.

Follensby Clear Pond is just south of the St. Regis Canoe area.  It's one of D and his kids' favorite spots, in part because there's no need to portage gear, but the sites are isolated and the lake fairly quiet.  If I had my druthers I probably wouldn't stay there again unless we were going up with D, just because with just a tiny bit more work (i.e. a portage with all your camping gear), you can camp on St. Regis Pond or one of the other adjoining lakes in the St. Regis Canoe Area, which is significantly quieter.

Follensby Clear technically allows motor boats, although I believe there's a horsepower limit.  But just having the possibility of motor boats makes it a slightly more popular spot than St. Regis, and that meant there were people playing a radio in the woods late into the night, and another person motoring back and forth across the lake after midnight.  It's amazing how inconsiderate people can be, even people who are willing to rough it in the woods.

Regardless, those moments of annoyance were few and far between.  Follensby Clear has some great sites - big, pine-needle cushioned, and far from other people.  They're not plush.  The full extent of the "facilities" are fire pits - no picnic tables, no running water, no outhouses - which frankly, is my kind of camping.

The lake is so beautiful, and we heard loons calling almost all evening.  We paddled about easily on Saturday, portaging from one lake to another and exploring, and then came back to our camp and swam for hours in the lake.  Or at least, D's son C and I did. The other three were total party poopers about the whole swimming in the lake thing.  How much they missed!  It was deliciously warm and cool at the same time, and C and I just floated about out there for ages.  Talk about a good way to reduce one's blood pressure.

C and I did have some company out there in the water, though.  Phoebe swims!

I suppose this isn't really something remarkable, but we've never had a dog who liked water.  We enticed her out into the water on Friday evening with a life jacket on, just to see if she'd do it.  She then proceeded to spend much of the weekend swimming about, very proud of her new skill!  She does still need to learn to keep her mouth closed when she's out there without the life vest, as every so often she takes a swallow then coughs and sputters.

Phoebe rapidly decided she likes this whole camping thing.  It's a rough life, can't you tell?

Simon, of course, is an old hand at it.  He's as happy as he ever gets when we're camping.  Check out the clump of pine needles hanging from his lip, like a fine cigar.

"Um, guys?  Where's dinner?"

Before I leave you with a little photo essay of the day, I would just like to note that D's kids are the opposite of all teenager stereotypes.  They're just the greatest kids.  They'll be sophomore and senior in high school next year, and are happy, funny, helpful, and wonderful company.  All five of us (seven counting the dogs) just seemed to strike the right balance between enthusiastic exploration, and just sitting and breathing in the fresh pine breeze and the sound of loons.  I know from experience that finding woodland companions who are that, well, companionable, is a rare gift.  I am very much looking forward to our next trip with them.

I managed to capture this fellow with the polarized lens:


Calling all Beetle Lovers

>> Saturday, July 9, 2011

Okay, so I need a little help here.  Anybody recognize this gruesomely enormous fellow?  The poor critter got hoovered up by my puppy in the back yard, then hacked back up on my hallway floor.  My pets then gathered around and stared at him.  He was much the worse for the wear by the time my husband swooped in and rescued him from sure death by cat.

He's one burly bug.

So, a couple of things about him make me think "scarab" - the burly size, those cool lamellate antennae, which you can kind of see here:

But I can't get any closer than that, and I am not even certain I'm right.

Any suggestions?

Oh, by the way, I think we rescued him in time.  By the time we finished taking his glamor shots and relocated him outside, he was starting to scuttle about at a healthy pace.  May he (or she) live to reproduce, because s/he's cool as heck.


Distance Limitations

>> Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I am feeling a little bit cooped up lately, which is strange considering it's summer, the weather's been gorgeous, and I've been outside a whole lot.  But the problem is, I get bored easily (WAY easily), and we have found our world considerably shrunk by Little Miss Barf-In-The-Car.

We are fortunate to live in a Village that's out in the country, so we have some wooded walks along the Erie Canal that don't require a car trip at all.  But from our house, one direction on the trail leads through a swamp that's nearly impassable this time of year because of swirling, terrorizing hordes of blood-thirsty mosquitoes and droves of savage deer flies.  The other direction is nice, but I'm simply tired of it.  We walk it nearly every single day because having a hyperactive puppy means needing to wear said puppy out.  So we've been taking daily 3+ mile walks either around the Village or along the very flat, fine gravel canal path that I don't find particularly interesting.  Technically there are trees, but it's not very nature-ey.

Here's the way you know I'm completely bored with our walk options: I haven't even been taking my camera along.  That's a bad sign.  We just fast walk/jog our route to get it over with.  By the way, it doesn't wear out the puppy much at all - Phoebe's still raring to go when we get home.  Simon, however, is exhausted by the time we get back.  He's badly out of shape, poor thing.  Phoebe's going to get us all into considerably better shape, frankly. 

Simon gone splat, post walk:

Phoebe, post walk:

And the damage the Tasmanian devil can cause if we don't wear her out thoroughly enough:

Although, then she gives me a face like this and she's instantly forgiven:

But we can't drive more than about 20 minutes with Phoebe, or she starts getting drooly and hurls.  We are making slow progress - we used to be limited to about 5 minutes before the droolies hit - but we still can't take her far at all.  So for now, almost all of our favorite hiking spots are off limits, even on weekends when we have time to get to them.

We did try one crazy adventure with Phoebe, involving the canoe.  There are photos, I hope, but since I took them with a disposable water-proof camera rather than my decidedly non-waterproof Nikon D90, I still have to develop them.  The only stretch of water I could think of that was within the non-barf range was the Seneca River, so we put the kevlar canoe on the car and tootled up to a nearby DEC fishing put-in.  On the whole I am pleased with the adventure because Phoebe did fantastic in the canoe.  She was a little more fidgety than I'd like, but didn't panic, dive overboard, nor flip us.  She also did not get seasick, which was another worry of mine.  I call that a good start. 

Canoeing on the Seneca River during the Saturday of 4th of July weekend, though, bit it.  There was so much boat traffic that it was downright nerve wracking.  Most of the boats were fairly curteous, and we hugged the shores to be out of their way.  But one overloaded speed boat drove right at us at high velocity and turned aside at the very last minute in an attempt to swamp us.  Oh ha ha, folks.  Very funny.  And very dangerous

I was furious.  I contemplated hurling something at the boat to give vent to my outrage, but I'd engaged in minimalist packing for fear Phoebe would swamp us and had nothing to throw other than one of the dogs or a paddle, both of which seemed inadvisable.  Thankfully I'm a good enough canoer that it's mighty hard to flip me, and with my shouting instructions to my poor husband, we weathered the massive waves without incident. 

I shall not be returning to the Seneca River again any time soon, however.

I have gotten one suggestion for another place we can canoe that's within our current driving radius, and that's 9 Mile Creek.  So perhaps we'll try that this weekend.  Or perhaps we'll just deal with the barf factor and travel further to a favorite hiking spot that's a little further afield.


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