Observations Whilst Walking the Dog

July 21, 2020

Walking the dog several times a day has been a good experience for me. And the walks can range from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the weather, so both the dog and I get some exercise.

Unlike others I see out and about, I walk the dog with no music in my ears or any other distraction. It’s just me, Bella, the leash, and the neighborhood.

To make the walks more fun, for the both of us, I’ve “trained” Bella that I am willing to sprint after squirrels. Unfortunately, my girlfriend, who walks her in the morning, isn’t too happy with this, as Bella will strain against the leash to get after squirrels. Secretly, I find it very funny.

Squirrels. There are quite a few around the neighborhood, especially in areas where there are a lot of older, nut bearing trees. As I was walking her one day, I realized how little I knew about them. That lead me to borrow a book from Cleveland Public Library on the subject. Fascinating creatures. While the world is full of them, there is a lot we don’t know. But there are some things I learned, like the chattering you hear? Those are squirrels of the same family warning their siblings/parents/etc. of, in my case, a dog. I also called a local nature and science center to inquire about squirrels, specifically why my area has no black squirrels.

Anachronastic trees. An anachronism is a term that defines an adaptation that is chronologically out of place, making its purpose more or less obsolete. A tree with big fruits to attract huge mammals as dispersers of its seeds is anachronistic in a world of relatively small mammals. In other words, plants and trees that are waiting for giant mammals to disperse their seeds. Mammals that haven’t walked the Earth for thousands of years. A great example is the avocado.  Cut one open and marvel at the size of the seed. While humans have discovered that they are delicious, if left to nature, they would be found in only a few places, as the mammal that dispersed its seeds is long dead. How does this relate to walking the dog? Along one route Bella and I take, there is a ginkgo tree. A true “living fossil.” Also, we see a lot of Honey Locust trees. They are extremely popular landscaping trees because they grow fast and their roots do not spread far from the trunk, ruining concrete, pavement, and so on. It’s a tree that has adapted to mammals that are extinct as the fruit is fairly long and has a hard shell. We only see the thornless variety around the neighborhood.

Interested? Here’s a book that will explain more about these amazing trees and plants and the mammals that used to disperse their seeds.

Speaking of anachronastic things, the second fastest land animal, behind the cheetah, is the pronghorn. Why would this mammal still need to be so fast as there is no land predator that can catch them? Their natural predators died out at least 12,000 years ago.

Turkeys. We have about 5-6 turkey’s roaming the neighborhood and we keep well away from them as they are known to very aggressive. I knew that they roosted in trees at night, but I didn’t know how high in the trees they roost (very high). Also, their roosting spot is at the center of their range. So, knowing where they roost, they will range in a 3 to 5 mile circle. The most startling thing to see is them flying. Remember, these birds are not raised on a farm for their meat, they are wild and lean. But watching these very large birds fly is very cool. Just read a book about them that I picked up at the library.

House Numbers. It’s fascinating to me that house numbers can be pretty much anywhere on a house and it varies from house to house. Around the front door: Above, to the right, to the left. They could be on the front door. Someone in the neighborhood painted the numbers to match the color of the front door. That’s not very helpful. They could be on front patio posts, any one of the many posts. Over the garage or to the right of left of the garage door. Or, there’s no numbers on the house. Those houses have the numbers on posts or stones in their front yards. I know that GPS will get you pretty close to your destination, but once you’re in the general area, it’s not easy to determine if you’ve found the right place.

When You’re Away. When you leave your house for an extended period, most people have lights that will automatically go on and off to simulate someone living in the home. Do you know which room rarely, if ever, has lights come on? The kitchen. The most popular room in the house. Just as interesting, there’s never any trash to be picked up on collection day. Finally, in the winter, do you know how I know you’re not home? There are no car tracks in your driveway. Nor are there tracks leading up to and into your garage.