Archive for the ‘animals’ Category

BasketCam: Buster and Us At The 2018 Blessing Of The Animals

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

We’ve been coming to Olvera Street’s annual Blessing of the Animals event since 2004. First a couple years with Shadow and then one with Ranger. Buster, our 18ish-year-old Russion tortoise, has been the designated representative of the various pets of our household every year since 2007.

This is the second year that we’ve joined with the fine folks at the Reptile & Amphibian Rescue Network and been a part of the initial processional. Last year we lucked into accompanying them basically by being at  their booth wherein they invited us, and this year we did the same thing, thereby getting ceremoniously doused with the holy H2O by Archbishop Jose Gomez at the front of the long line of other pet owners, and allowing Susan and me to quickly get to the real reason for coming downtown: margaritas at La Golondrina.

I set up our GoPro on a corner of Buster’s basket and timelapsed from prior to the event’s commencement of the procession to well into our lunch. The following stills pulled from the video show Buster and me prior to the event; the moment a bemused Archbishop Gomez flings water in our general direction; Buster in line at La Golondrina with a curious little girl; and lastly the moment Buster escaped the confines of the basket. Thankfully her freedom was short-lived thanks to Susan’s sharp-eye.

And Now For Something Completely Different: Good News

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

If the following press release ends up getting covered by any of the local media outlets, it stands a good bet that you are acquainted at some level with the Friendly Neighborhood Humane Officer involved in this all-together awesome of a happy ending, more than two years in the making.

JUSTICE FOR KING
2015 Animal Cruelty Case Results in Conviction

Los Angeles — Rather than stand trial on April 28, 2017, Marcus Kemp (DOB 11/15/1965) entered a no contest plea to one misdemeanor count Penal Code 597(b), animal cruelty, at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center (Division 47) for his part in the suffering of King, a four-year-old pit bull mix dog in his care. The terms of Kemp’s probation include 36 months summary probation, $250 fine plus penalty assessment, and 16 animal cruelty classes, among other conditions (Court Case #6CJ01732). The charges are the result of an investigation by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA). The case was prosecuted by Michelle H. McGinnis, Supervising Deputy City Attorney, Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, Criminal Division.

In April 2015, spcaLA Humane Officers responded to an animal cruelty tip on the 800 block of E. 109th Street in Willowbrook. In the backyard of the residence, they found King tethered to a cyclone fence by a heavy metal chain . Fatigued but alert, King was underweight and had a severe ligature-type wound to his left hind leg resulting from becoming entangled in the chain to which he was unlawfully confined. This injury resulted in undue suffering and neglect. Criminal charges were filed against defendants, Kemp and Keesha Price (DOB 11/26/1970) in March of 2016. Price later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

King, before and after.

While in the care of spcaLA, King recovered from his injuries with proper veterinary care and nutrition. Despite neglect at the hands of his former human companions, King remained a happy dog who loved to play and receive affection . In February 2016, King was adopted into a loving home.

spcaLA is the only private animal welfare organization in Los Angeles that is also Law Enforcement. spcaLA Humane Officers hold the same powers of Peace Officers in the state of California when investigating animal cruelty. spcaLA is a non-profit agency that relies on donations for its programs and services, including animal cruelty investigations. To donate, please visit spcaLA.com or call 323-730-5300 x233.

For more information, please contact Miriam Davenport at 323-730-5300 x233, 323-353-4658 cell or mdavenport@spcaLA.com.

Since 1877, spcaLA has been the premiere independent, nonprofit animal welfare organization serving Southern California. There is no national SPCA, parent organization, or umbrella group that provides financial support to spcaLA. Donations run programs and services including Cruelty Investigation, Disaster Animal Response Team, Humane Education, and a variety of shelter services.

Bonus video of King romping about: https://youtu.be/YvHSQ6_qi4E

The Biggest Senses Of Accomplishment Can Derive From The Smallest Of Acts

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Adding water to the birdbath, somehow I caught something reeeeally tiny on a rock just as it got washed off. It took some looking but I managed to rescue this littlest of mantises and brought him inside to get the following vid/pix and let it dry off before returning it outdoors.

It’s odd how you can get the biggest sense of accomplishment from the smallest of acts.

mini mantis movie link

Daytrip To The Great Wide Open

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

No April Foolin’! Susan and I brought Ranger with us and drove all the way out to Wind Wolves Preserve near Bakersfield and enjoyed its magnificence via an eight-mile hike up a canyon and back along a plateau. Here’s a two-frame 360-degree panorama of Ranger and Susan with seemingly the entire park to themselves somewhere between the fourth and third mile markers of the Tule Elk Trail (I’d encourage clicking to embiggify the image):

Slice O’Life: Bird In A Fountain

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

From the kitchen window I spied this little red-headed bird sippin’ and scratchin’ and shakin’ for a spell in the backyard fountain…

Then here’s Patchy Cat entranced by the same birdy during a replay on my computer…

A So Most Trivial and Glorious Thing

Saturday, July 9th, 2016

I read a poem this morning shared by an acquaintance on Facebook. It was written by a woman who explained with regret why she killed a harmless spider that startled her and with some recognition that fear was no excuse. I appreciated that sentiment but not enough to dispel the disappointment at its demise.

I have chosen to be a partner with the creatures that inhabit this world. I am not one so pure; after all, I had bacon for breakfast this morning, and a hamburger for dinner last night. But I am otherwise avowed to coexist as best I can with those to which I come in direct contact. And I default to disdain for those who aren’t. I will go out of my way to pardon a housefly from the window screen prison it finds itself. I will praise the praying mantis, rescue the ant. Relocate the house centipede. Driver 35 miles to get an injured opossum care. Be late to work to free a gull from a certain and horrible death. No cockroach goes stepped on that crosses my path. Spiders are a marvel and an amazement that command my respect. Our perimeter is home to countless brown widows, our garage a haven for their black cousin. When rodents ended up doing several hundred dollars damage chewing up the wiring of my Baybee’s Ford Escape, I didn’t employ inhumane traps or poisons, but instead deployed a spray solution of Peppermint oil and water and one of those electronic sonic devices. And don’t get me started on how much I adore those creatures people proudly love to hate: coyotes, skunks, pigeons, raccoons, rats, snakes, sharks. Any fear of them is based in an ignorance and/or a bias that too many stubborn people seem sadly only too righteous to maintain.

I do have a footnote to that code of coexistence: If you don’t bother me, I won’t bother you. Thus I don’t suffer the mosquito or the tick or the flea attempting to feast off me; or pretty much any parasite or predator regardless of their number of legs — but especially those of two who have this ability to maliciously and intentionally harm. They are the worst.

We all lived in a world this week full of tragedy. The latest in a succession of the them, and the next undoubtedly yet to come. But this one was of police officers killing people and of people killing police officers. It was enough unnecessary and vile death to cut me to the core and its culmination was enough to have my concerned superior exercise caution and order me not to do my job on Friday. We stayed in the office and did paperwork. I understood and respected the decision but my impulse when I got up yesterday morning was to suit up get in the field tall with my head on a swivel because the need for me doesn’t go away just because sanity does.

Which brings me to what happened this morning. A nothing. A trifle. I was in the backyard and dark of mood at Buster the tortoise’s hutch with her breakfast and the requisite spray bottle full of water to moisten the meal and top off the water bowl from which I’ve never seen her drink. The sun bathed the area in light and the air was cool. I did a doublecheck of the cone created by the antlion larvae that’s taken up residence in a corner of Buster’s space and, no I didn’t destroy it. Instead I admired the tiny ambush predator for its diligence in maintaining the delicate structural integrity of the trap and its patience in waiting for a hapless meal to fall in. But that’s another story.

bushie1359

Here’s a low-res still of a bushtit exiting a nest in our backyard from 2010 (click to enlargify).

I was spritzing Buster’s greens with the water bottle when to my left I heard the telltale chirps of a gregarious group of “bushies,” more commonly known as bushtits, that were gathered in the quince tree from my neighbor’s yard whose branches overhang the fence. On an impulse I directed the spray in their direction and within a few moments others were drawn to it and there were at least ten of the little birds chirping and bouncing up a storm around the trees boughs and leaves shimmying and fluffing and rubbing themselves against the leaves where some of the water drops had landed in appreciation at the surprise spritzing to such a degree that the whole tree took on a jolly air in its shaking. If I’d redirect the spray to another part of the tree they’d move to it. Even a hummingbird joined in. And dang if I didn’t stand there cranking out the water in that full bottle until my hand was tired and it was empty. And doubledang it if I didn’t suddenly find water falling out of my eyes because in this latest of a seeming unending series of hells we’re going through I was just struck by the absolute beauty of this interaction and how gloriously blessed I was both to experience it and more important to appreciate these lovely little birds bopping around and literally soaking it all up. I think I’ll make this a habit.

The moral to this belabored ramble? Find beauty wherever you can and be a part of the world, not apart from it.

Based On Her Training And Experience…

Saturday, August 15th, 2015

This morning we made it two successful skunk meetups in a row. Emerging from yesterday’s way-too-close encounter while walking Ranger was a miracle. This morning’s jaw-dropper of a stand off was something even more glorious: proof that Ranger has perhaps finally learned after at least three previous backyard skunkings that those “funny looking cats” (and the subsequent unceremonious deskunking baths involving hydrogen peroxide, baking powder and dish soap that follow) are to be avoided at all costs.

Awake early but way too lazy to go for a walk, I instead let Ranger out in the backyard to do her thang — but not before first conducting the obligatory flashlight enhanced patrol of the area to make sure there were no critters out and about.

Once I’d cleared it, out went Ranger who promptly found a patch of dirt and laid down upon it, looking at me with a forlorn expression. This is not her normal behavior, which is to do her own urgent patrol, and then after much back-and-forthing in the way-back part of the yard find a spot to pee and then another to poop. This self-imposed “I’m just gonna lay down here until I die or Momma comes home” exile is how she acts in protest to Susan (who’s on a weekender to visit old friends and her mom) not being here.

Sigh.

I tried to encourage Ranger to “go peepee!” but she was having none of it so I adjourned inside to make coffee, freshen the water and kibble bowls and advise the imploring cats gathered in the kitchen that breakfast wouldn’t be for awhile yet.

Roughly five minutes later (and in hindsight pleeeeenty of time for any number of creature — rat, squirrel, opossum, raccoon or coyote — to breach the backyard while seated with my cuppa joe in the kitchen, I saw Ranger was no longer prone outside, but was instead upright and facing north with interest. Simultaneously, a couple cats hopped up into the backyard facing windows I’d opened and were staring intently in the direction of the tortoise hutch. So I went outside to see whatever the object of their collective attention was.

My eyes went wide. It was a skunk. About the same size as the one yesterday. Standing atop the short retaining wall beside the hutch, stock still, facing in Ranger’s direction about 20 feet away with tail straight up.

This would typically be when I would yell out a blood-curdling “Noooooo!” and Ranger would ignore that go all territorial and charge, forcing the skunk to execute a 180-degree turn of doom and release its appropriate and terribly effective counter measures. Past episodes Ranger’s been blasted in the chest and the side of the head. She even took a direct hit in the mouth and eyes on one occasion. That one was particularly horrible with her spastically rolling around on the ground, foaming at the mouth and eating dirt like she’d gone instantly Cujo-level rabid. Poor girl.

And after each of those times while scrubbing her down Susan and I would question when or if she’d ever learn.

That question was answered this morning. Not only did she just stand there showing completely no sign of charging, but when I called her, she headed to me immediately and followed along while I hustled us to the back door and back inside the safety of kitchen. Even when the skunk went frantically mobile and started to probe the north fence for an exit, Ranger didn’t waiver.

Inside I hugged her and praised her for five full minutes, before going back outside to ensure the skunk had gone. Then I came back and hugged her some more.