Dogs and Other Critters

Before beginning this nonsense about animals, a quick update for those who like to follow our travels.

Golf Cart Dog

Golf Cart Dog

We escaped the snow in early February with a flight to Chicago, delayed a couple of hours by ice, but still managed an excellent Italian meal before settling down for a luxurious night in the ostentatious Palmer House.  The Amtrak Texas Eagle was also delayed by ice and snow, but eventually trundled down to Taylor, Texas, where we retrieved our truck and trailer.   Two weeks in Rockport, near Corpus Christi, and we reveled in the warm dry weather as we heard about the snow and bitter cold which lingers in Ontario.  West to the desert areas now, with cloudless skies and sunshine.  May the warmth continue.

So what’s this about dogs?

Illegal (unleashed) Dog

Illegal (unleashed) Dog

They are ubiquitous on RV parks, likely because traveling with dogs is much easier with some sort of motor home or house trailer, and it seems that every other visitor has a dog.

Sometimes More Than One Dog

Sometimes More Than One Dog

Occasionally folk have other pets like cats and the odd parrot, but dogs are everywhere.  Many look like their owners, but I am too polite to tell people that.

Another RV-Size Dog

Another RV-Size Dog

Spoiled and Pretty

Spoiled and Pretty

Small dogs are in the majority, likely because space in an RV is limited, but we did encounter a bull mastiff in a tiny trailer.  “That’s a big hound for a small home,” I commented.

“Yes,” replied the owner, “and if I find a wife, we either trade in the dog or buy a bigger trailer.”

Poet is a Real Guide Dog

Poet is a Real Guide Dog

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Like in city parks, condo developments and other public spaces, there is an endless war over dogs and their leavings.  There are dire threats of eviction for those with barking dogs, and for those who think scooping is only for ice-cream sundaes.   I have not seen anyone evicted, and no dog being shot, though threats have been issued and Texas is noted for direct action.

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Generally we like dogs, and they seem to love travel.  After all, we humans enjoy new and spectacular views, and the doggy equivalent is the cornucopia of new sniffs around a well patronized tree or hydrant.

We  did not swim here

We did not swim here

An Alligator We Did Not see

An Alligator We Did Not see

In the “unwanted critter” department, annoyances are mainly mosquitoes, fortunately sparse in drier areas with cool nights.   Dire warnings are posted about alligators, poisonous snakes, bears and mountain lions, but these animals are actually mostly rare and timid.   Likely the notices are mainly to avoid law-suits, and posted to keep insurance companies happy.   When we arrived at the Rockport camp site I asked a neighbour about the alligators.  “Heck, there haven’t been alligators on this park for three years.  But watch out for the water moccasins, tarantulas and scorpions”   I am fairly sure that he was making most of this up, but I do use a flashlight when walking after dark!

Javalina - courtesy Louise Simos

Javalina – courtesy Louise Simos

One nasty type of critter is the javalina.  Looks like a pig, smells like a skunk, and acts like a raccoon.  They travel in packs, and javalinas can also be nasty and dangerous, particularly to small dogs.   Boris, our much lamented schnauzer, decided to confront a herd of javalinas in Big Bend National Park.   I dragged him off, and pointed out that javalinas just loved small dogs for supper.

Cougar-Deadly Pussycat

Cougar-Deadly Pussycat

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For the major dangerous beasts, our own experience has been limited to the occasional bear and cougar, but these have been sightings … not imminent or real attacks.  Legends abound about others who are less fortunate, but these encounters are in the same category as tornadoes, lightning strikes, muggings, and casino jackpots:  exceedingly rare and pure bad luck (or otherwise).   Go with the statistics, and if you want to be safe, don’t stray far from home.

Armadillo - Strange Critter

Armadillo – Strange Critter

Deer are Everywhere

Deer are Everywhere

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In the “benign and interesting” category are turtles, and armadillos, which are much hated by gardeners since they dig a lot.   Cute though!

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Of course there are numerous deer, coyotes, squirrels and birds.

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One the coyote could not catch

One the coyote could not catch

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The road runners are mostly in the desert, and are funny birds.  When pressed (as in being chased by a wily coyote) they can can actually take off and soar up to a tree limb.

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Mainstay of the US Cavalry

Mainstay of the US Cavalry

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Horses are numerous in Texas, but now used mostly for recreation and rodeos, though the Border Patrol use them to chase illegal immigrants through the spiky desert.  Camels, which are now quite rare, surface at “historic events” like Fort Clark Days, where this picture was taken.  This based on the history of the US Camel Corps, explained here in Wilkipedia:

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The U.S. Camel Corps was a mid-nineteenth century experiment by the United States Army in using camels as pack animals in he Southwest United States.

While the camels proved to be hardy and well-suited to travel through the region, the Army declined to adopt them for military use. Horses were frightened of the unfamiliar animals, and their unpleasant dispositions made them difficult to manage.

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In case you think that only the United States indulged in this camel business, Canada also tried hard, but gave up for many of the same reasons.

Some of the pictures are mine, but those of the “nasty critters” are from various sources on the Internet.

John (with contributions by Elaine)

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2 Responses to Dogs and Other Critters

  1. Jim and Vi Young says:

    Gee glad to see all is going well.,I hope you have had better weather than us. It has been very cold but sunny some odd days. Have you had some good excitement?We have been busy with Jim and his band. They have been playing quite a lot. They did a fund raiser at the church Sat. night. did very good. .Where are you now?..Love Vi

  2. Sian says:

    Gee, I’m glad our dog Jack is such a manifestly handsome beast ;-)!

    Sending you all wishes of thriving and wonderful travels – had fun reading your lovely post,
    Sian

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