Monday, 28 October 2013

a post not about dogs

This post is for Mitch and Molly. Their humans have black swans, way over on the other side of the world from Australia, and after I read their comment on my previous post, that their 'lady swan' is playing around at nesting, I thought I'd post these two photos of black swans nesting a few weeks ago right in the middle of the city of Melbourne, on the Yarra.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

grass parrots and a dog

We visited a new walking place today, at the end of Wills Street in Kew. I don't know what the little off-lead place is called, but it has terrific views over towards the city of Melbourne.

Penny wasn't too keen on saying hello to the other dogs. She is quite wary when we go to places where she doesn't usually walk (pretty often, actually). But she greeted them quietly and headed away from them.

The grass parrots, as usual, aren't worried when there are dogs around.

We headed out of the little off-lead area and found some nice paths to wander along. The highlight was seeing this pair of - presumably amorous - grass parrots seemingly checking out a nesting hollow in a dead tree.

Friday, 25 October 2013

hot chocolate art

Penny and I had a lovely day today at Heide Museum of Modern Art. First we strolled around the sculpture gardens; Penny examined the base of every tree in detail, and I looked at the plants and the art works.

Next we headed down to the little off-lead walk behind the gallery, and Penny even had a quick dip in the Yarra River at a spot I've never visited before.

After that, we sat a an outdoor table at Cafe Vue. It's a rather posh place, so I wasn't sure whether a shaggy dog and her shaggy old owner would be allowed to sit there. I popped inside to check and was told by the barista that it would be fine.

And this is what he sent out for me to drink!

I think he must have peeped outside and spotted Penny, because it's a terrific likeness. Don't you agree?

What a lovely way to make us feel welcome. And it tasted delicious.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

mooching around the local lanes with my dog

Penny did her 'puppy eyes' trick today, glancing at her lead as if to say, 'When are we going out?'

Of course, I couldn't resist. I love it when she communicates with me so clearly. But I wasn't in the mood for a full-on exercise-type walk, so we strolled around for half an hour just smelling the flowers.

I feel sure Penny was smelling things, because she had the tell-tale froth around her nostrils that says she's in full scenting mode.

But, strangely, all the flowers she examined were low to the ground. Could it be that she wasn't actually enjoying perfumed flowers, but was sniffing around for pee-mails?

I, on the other hand, WAS looking at plants for aesthetic reasons. Oh, wait, I guess canine aesthetics involves urine, so I shouldn't feel so superior.

I recently attended a workshop on edible weeds at Ceres, so I was looking out for them. Here are a couple I noticed:


plantain (I think)

I saw a lovely dandelion seedhead, and crouched down to get a photo of the ball of fluff. 

But Penny came to see what I was doing and wandered away with half the seeds stuck to her coat!

Monday, 14 October 2013

a new fish ladder on the Yarra

When I read Slavenka's post today about salmon leaping up the River Tyne, I remembered how Penny and I have seen lots of work going on - for years! - at Yarra Bend, one of our favorite spots.

We also blogged some time ago about our usual swimming spot now being out of bounds for dogs.

It seems that it's all connected. Here's a video clip about the new Fish Ladder near Yarra Bend, at Dight's Falls.

I now understand why the little area has been fenced off - it's all part of the exciting news that native species are swimming back up the river, some of them for the first time in over a hundred years! As well as rebuilding the weir and putting in a fish ladder, the workers are regenerating sections of the banks.

Just the other day we wandered down that way to see the finished project, but we won't go there very often, because Penny has to be on lead. Also, I don't think she'll like walking over the fish ladder section, because it is a grill. She wouldn't like walking on the mesh. But I'm going down one of these days to try to see fish swimming up the river.

My all-time favourite native fish are using the ladder - galaxias. Here's a fantastic underwater video by  Greg Wallis of spotted galaxias swimming in the wild. (They're small fish, by the way, which is not obvious from the video.)

Thursday, 10 October 2013

are our dogs companions or property?

Further to my post yesterday about how we think about our dogs, today I received an email from PetMD with a discussion of words we use to refer to our pets.

Is Penny 'it'? Or is the correct pronoun 'she'? (I think 'she'. She's as much a female animal as I am.)

Is she my 'pet'? My 'companion'? My property?

At the bottom of the PetMD article there are many interesting comments. Some hate the idea of pets as property, but one person says that the concept of 'owning' a dog gives him rights and means no one can harm his dog. On the other hand, to me the danger might be that it means only that if someone harms his dog they have to pay him recompense.

No money could make up to me the distress if someone harmed Penny.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

are dogs our property or are they our responsibility?

Slavenka has posted a link to a most interesting article. Research scientists have trained dogs to stand motionless in a brain imaging scanner, the first time canine volunteer subjects have been used in this way. (The dogs are free to walk away from the scanner if they wish.)

And the results will be no surprise to dog owners. Dogs' brain activity shows they have many of the same reactions and emotions as we do.

The article raises the question of what this means for ethical treatment of our dogs. They are considered 'property' in most countries. (In fact I don't know any places where this is not the case.)

But if they feel and think in a similar way to a young human, don't they deserve the protection we extend to our own species?

It's a good read and I recommend it to all.

Friday, 4 October 2013

enjoying the ordinary with a dog

Walking Penny is a duty, in one way. We aim to go out for at least forty minutes every day. (We don't achieve that goal all the time, of course.)

But in another way it's an absolute pleasure, because even an ordinary place is made interesting by Penny's company. Who'd have thought, for instance, that a concrete yard could hold so many smells to investigate?

And you certainly never know what you'll find in a grassy back lane...

I found lovely sunny vistas.

Penny found bread rolls! (Oh, how I wish our neighbors wouldn't throw bread into the back lane.)

Every walk is an adventure, if Penny is with me.