Animals & Nature

Animals & Nature

Loving the New Kid on the Block

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I just love nature and animals, and over the course of my life I have had birds, cats, dogs, and fishes. In fact, not having animals in my experience would seem almost unnatural.

After much contemplation and family discussion, we decided unanimously that it was time to bring home another dog. We already had two toy-sized pooches, yet we still felt there was room for another.

After much research and combing through photos, I thought one little guy stood out. I was told that he was the last one of the litter and was left behind, that no one seemed to want him. The owners sent me more photos of him which I showed to my family, and we all agreed that he would fit in perfectly.  So, we planned the trip to pick him up, driving well over 100 miles to bring home this new family addition.

When we arrived, as we were waiting for him, we acted like kids waiting to open gifts on Christmas morning. We were led into a grand room, and this little guy was running around and playing with toys. He immediately came over to us and began chewing at our feet. His hair was white with yellow on the tips of his ears. His nose, cocoa brown, and his eyes, a soft, olive green. I could not resist hugging him, and when I did, he was very happy! Off we went with this added blessing.

The rest of our family was waiting at our home to greet him. When they saw him, they fell in love with him as quickly as I did. Our other two dogs at home were curious, but still they were wagging their tails, glad to have another member of their kind at home. Not before long, they became friends, then eventually, brothers.

This little guy responded to our commands, learned to rest on his own bed at night, and potty-trained easily. I thought he was an angel but a very quiet one.

I became concerned as to why he never made any sounds, which led me to inquire about it. I was told not to worry, that he would find his voice soon enough, so I remained patient, keeping only positive thoughts that he would one day speak.

That day arrived!

I was working from my home office, which is usually very serene, but breaking the silence, a sonorous and very loud bark sounded out of this little guy’s mouth and both surprised and startled me and his brothers. I was amazed that sound like that could come out of such a small animal, but that was about to change as well!

Within a few months, he had a growth spurt that was just as shocking as his first bark. My family and I were perplexed as to why he was getting so big when we were told that he would not be big at all! I was struggling with this because we did not expect or plan for it as we were not used to having such a big dog our home, and neither were our other two dogs.

ollie vidThis new guy on the block was bumping into things, knocking things over, running through the house, and pulling up rugs as he skidded through the hallways. We had to get different sized water and food bowls for him. Even the home-cooked food I prepared for the other dogs had to be more than tripled to feed them all. All of us were making many adjustments, but more so I was especially because I work from home.

Resentment toward this new guy was growing in my heart and led me to consider bringing him back to where we got him. It was becoming increasingly difficult for me to focus, and every time he barked, my heart jumped.  I found myself constantly cleaning up behind him from whatever he would rub up against or bump into, such as the stainless steel refrigerator that he liked to shake in front of after getting his teeth brushed and his mouth washed!

What really brought me to the end was one day when a neighbor of mine saw him on the porch and shouted to me from across the street, “I didn’t know that you got a Standard Poodle.” I shouted back, “Neither did I. And anyway, that’s not what he is.” She said, “Whatever! He’s cute.” I plopped to the floor and cried, feeling befuddled and overwhelmed. However, this big guy came over to me and licked my face.

I called a family meeting to discuss this dilemma. The response of my family was loving and very supportive. They told me that whatever I needed to do to restore a harmonious household, they were beside me all the way. However, by the looks on their face and the dog’s face, I knew I had to find another way to resolve this issue—I needed a new plan!

I prayed fervently for more patience and to see this big guy’s purpose; I tried daily to handle this challenge with gratitude and love. One day, I recalled a movie that I had seen a few years back called Forever Strong. A line that has since remained with me from that movie is that “God doesn’t make a no-good ANYTHING.”

I wrote that down as an affirmation of hope and kept repeating it to myself every time I became frustrated with this big boy in our home. Meanwhile, I kept cleaning the hardwood floors from his paw prints, wiping up the mess from his food, straightening the rugs, as well as reminding him, as he would drag one of his brothers around by the tail, that he needed to be more gentle. When he barked, I saw it as another opportunity for me to exercise calmness and restraint and to remain unruffled.

As I battled within as to what the best course of action was, I realized that still, somewhere in the back of my mind, I was considering returning him to the original owners. It seemed the easier route because it was part of the adoption plan. If for any reason I could not keep the dog, I had signed an agreement to return the dog to the owners, regardless of how long I have had him. However, my wavering was just adding more confusion to the already difficult challenge. I knew that I had to make a definitive decision to either bring him back right then and there or see this through.

One morning while I was working, I felt a painful sensation in my stomach that was getting worse by the minute. No one else was home but me and the three dogs.  

As I fell to the floor from the excruciating pain, my big boy came over to me and laid down beside me. As I struggled to get up and make my way to the bathroom, the pain was just too intense. I tried to reach for the arm of the chair for leverage to get up but couldn’t. That is when he moved himself into position to let me lean on him.

I was able to get up, and he remained right by my side. As I cried out in great discomfort he got closer to me, leaned up against me, and put his head on my lap. He looked into my eyes, and I began to feel the spasms lift. He stayed with me the rest of the day, not leaving my side. I apologized to him for my impatience and doubt, but he just kept looking at me with those soft olive green eyes. I hugged him just like I did that first day that we met and told him that I love him and that this is his home.

Since that day, whenever I need to use the facility, he follows me, leans up against me, and puts his head on my lap. He has begun doing that with other family members, too! Moreover, in one instance, a guest of ours, after coming out of the bathroom, saw our big boy sitting in front of the bathroom door, and she told us it seemed as though he was checking on her. We shared the story of our struggle with the dog’s acceptance, and we all smiled.

From that day forward, I realized his purpose. This big boy was meant to comfort, to support, and to protect! And when he barks, though it is still very loud, I giggle and continue working without skipping a beat.

You’re right, Mr. Gelwix, “God doesn’t make a no-good anything.”

Check him out in the video "Changes" from Follow Griffith.

changes follow griffith

Beavers

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I think animals and nature can always teach us something if we dare to learn from them. Let’s discover what beavers can teach us.

The beaver is the national animal of Canada and is depicted on the Canadian nickel. Beavers are family oriented, monogamous, and pair for life. Both parents participate in raising the kits and toilet train them to use an underwater door in their lodges. The one-year-olds help keep the bedding washed in the nursery by cleaning it out regularly. (That’s impressive!)  

And when a beaver hears running water, it thinks the dam has broken so it gets to work to repair it immediately. No need for uxorial prompting to get the repairs done!

If a parent has been separated from the family for any reason, the older kits take over his or her role. Once the kits leave home, they don’t venture too far away from their family, and like human animals, they are able to recognize a family member among other beavers with one difference: beavers identify family by the makeup of their anal gland secretions.

“The beaver family provides protection for all the residents of the pond,” digging out escape routes to avert predators along with secret entrances and exits to their lodges (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLyBZ1mdg2c). When a beaver senses a wolf or bear nearby, it will “slap” its tail to alert the others.

North America’s landscape is built primarily by beavers. They fell hundreds of trees to build a dam (“a barrier that impounds water or underground streams”) and have been labeled “extraordinary engineers” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLyBZ1mdg2c). They know precisely where to place every twig, rock, and branch so that their lodges are secure. They dredge mud from the bottom of the pond to seal their homes, and the entire family pitches in (pun intended).

The younger beavers are apprentices who watch and learn from their fathers, who show them how to repair any damage to their lodge. At the end of summer, beavers speedily gather food and store it before winter arrives and the pond freezes over. Beaver dams provide protection and an array of food for other wildlife. The trees that beavers cut down are homes for insects that become a buffet for woodpeckers.  Frogs from the pond become a meal for raccoons, and birds that migrate for the winter use the beaver ponds for nesting sites and rest stops. Geese find it warm to nest on top of the beaver lodges, while deer and elk forage on the lush greenery. These dams provide other animals with nutrient rich delights.

Water is a basic need for human animals and all other animals, and billions of tons of water are filtered through beaver damns! In 2002 the only places in nature without drought were where beavers lived; hence the conclusion that with beavers, ponds will be full of water but without beavers, they won’t.

Beavers definitely have the engineering and sound construction of lodges figured out perfectly. In addition, their landscaping abilities prove beneficial to many. “Beavers turn deserts into gardens” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLyBZ1mdg2c).

Beavers mate for life! They don’t run out on each other in tough times. If one of the parents dies, there is no contention between siblings as to who should remain at home as there is with human animals; the kits all remain to help out the surviving parent.

Beavers look out for each other, warn each other in times of danger, and are very prepared animals. No wonder the saying goes, “Busy as a beaver,” but busy being useful and productive, which blesses many.

See more about beavers at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLyBZ1mdg2c.

Sharks - Predator or Prey?

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Sharks in the Water or Sharks out of the Water? Who’s the Real Predator?

Though accurately predicting exactly how many sharks are killed every year by humans remains difficult, estimates show up to 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins alone.1 

Shark fins are used to make shark fin soup. In fact, shark fins are now considered one of the most valuable commodities in the world. One Whale Shark fin can sell up to $100,000 while a Basking Shark fin can sell for $250,000!2

Appreciating Nature

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Loving Nature Should Be Natural.

Nature is a part of creation, not apart from creation, and if we continue to allow ourselves to close our eyes and block our ears to the world of beauty and amazement performed by nature and justify the egregious abuse and neglect of it, then we have fallen into a deep pit of depravity.

Imagine a world of just human animals! Yikes!!!!

And here’s a thought to consider, could we human animals even exist without nature?

Let’s take a closer look at this question.

Let’s look at the bee.

Geese

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I think that animals and nature can always teach us something if we dare to learn. Let’s discover what geese can teach us.

Geese are categorized as anseriformes, which include about 140 different species. A female is called a goose and a male a gander. A baby is called a gosling. A group of geese is called a gaggle. Though they are waterfowls they do like spending quite a bit of time on land. They love to eat mostly fertilized grass and spend most of the daytime doing just that.1

Geese fly together in what is called a “V” formation or a wedge. This enables them to fly 70% better than if they fly solo.2 They make a honking noise, which symbolizes “encouragement” to whomever is leading the formation and when the goose or gander who is at the point position tires or sickens, another one in the formation moves into that post so the one who needs rest can fall back.3

Ants

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I think that animals and nature can always teach us something if we dare to learn. Let’s discover what ants can teach us.

Such a small thing an ant is, but don’t let that fool you because they sure can build big ideas!

Have you ever been faced with ants in your house? They seem to show up in groups!

Speaking about groups of ants, the biggest ant colony in the world used to be in Japan made up of 306 million workers, 1 million queens and 45,000 nests. A “massive supercolony was found in Southern Europe – built by Argentine ants.”1 That was more than 3700 miles long, including billions of worker ants along with millions of nests. The distance between Mexico to Alaska! Okay that’s amazing!