We headed out to go kayaking on the Guana River today. The Guana River is located between the ocean and the intracoastal waterway (ICW). After unloading the kayaks onto the boat ramp, I ran off to the rest room. On my way back, I saw a pelican hobbling up the boat ramp. He was entangled in fishing line, a hook, and sinker. It was wrapped around his wing and was affecting one of his feet since he couldn’t walk properly. Regis and I set out to catch him and disentangle him from the mess. Fortunately, a volunteer from the Reserve saw us and came to help. Regis was the lucky guy in front of the pelican and while the pelican was trying to bite Regis’s arms with his long beak, I snuck up from behind and grabbed him. I was able to hold him still and Regis grabbed his beak and shut it. The volunteer had a knife so he cut the fishing line off the bird. But, the hook was still in his wing.
The volunteer told us he could get something to cut the hook but would need about 5 minutes to get it. I agreed to hold the bird. At this point, I was stooped down with the bird between my legs and my arms holding him and his beak shut. I began to feel things crawling on me and noticed that mites were jumping off the bird onto me and climbing all over my arms and legs. When they started to crawl under my shorts, I became a little worried. Regis helped by picking them off as best he could until the volunteer returned. It was not possible to cut the hook and then push it through because it was stuck in too well. The guys cut the hook as close to the skin as they could and the pelican will have to live with the tip of the hook embedded in his wing.
After releasing him, the pelican ran off into a corner between a fence and small building located on the dam on the Guana River. We left to kayak.
If you wish to join us, see the videos below. The first two videos show fish jumping. In the last video, you can see some houses in the distance at the beginning of the video. Those houses are located on the ocean. There is not much land between the Guana River and the ocean at this point on the river. Toward the end of the video, you will notice the camera fall and be replaced pretty quickly. Regis learned from his first video adventure with the kayak to tether the camera to the boat. When it falls in, it is easier to retrieve then to grope around in the muck looking for it (assuming it isn’t too deep to do that). Anyway, having the tether worked great.
When we got back, we searched for our pelican friend and found him swimming right in front of all the fisherman. I have a feeling this pelican will need rescuing on a daily basis!
. Vultures. The vultures used to sit on top of the barn and spread their wings at our last house. Dart barked and barked at them and they ignored him. He saw some vultures again the other day. He harbors the same hatred of them.
. Noises. Dart hates lots of noises including storms, motor homes, etc. He won’t ride in the back of the motor home when it is moving because it makes too many noises. He hates when we are leveling the motor home and putting out (or in) the slides.
. Cuddling. Dart is not a cuddler (except with my friend Kristi, my mom, and Tekoe). If he lays down next to me, he will leave if I try to pet him.
. Children. They scare him!
. Boisterous dogs.
. Water and wind. He likes the sand on the beach but doesn’t like it if it’s windy. He doesn’t like getting his feet wet. He looks like a canine sandpiper when we walk in the water because he walks as close as he can without getting wet and runs away when a wave comes.
. Heat. It makes it hard to do outdoor activities with him when it is hot and the sun is out. Even in winter, he will often avoid the sun.
. Stop Playing. He hates when you stop playing with him.
. Riding in the car. This is unfortunate since we travel so much and we take him with us a lot. He is tolerant but doesn’t love it like so many dogs do. He also won’t ride in anything else (e.g. tractor, golf cart, canoe). He will never get to go kayaking with us.
. Muttluks. He has a pair for the snow (not that he needs them in Florida). But, they a helpful to him even if he doesn’t like them.
Things Dart Loves:
. Playing. He especially likes his flying disc and his ball. He prefers if Regis or I throw it. If someone else throws it when we are around, he will bring it back to one of us. He also prefers old, decrepit flying discs over new ones.
. Agility. He loves to run the agility course and especially loves the tunnels.
. Homemade food.
. Walking and hiking, especially off leash.
. Chasing squirrels. But, he hates that they cheat by running up trees.
. Small animals. He once licked a baby bunny to death. He also saved a baby squirrel. After hurricane Irene, he found it lying beneath a tree. He kept staring at it and me until I came over to see what was going on. The poor little squirrel was soaked. Since it had been there for a while and we couldn’t reach the nest, we gave it to a wildlife rehabilitator , who saved it and named it Irene.
. Copper and Tekoe. Two collies who Dart grew up with. Tekoe was especially sweet with him and he rewarded her by harassing her all the time. She was very patient with him and never snapped at him.
. Border collies. Dart has a soft spot for border collies. He was once made an honorary border collie at an agility trial.
Yes, the heater that has been broken since we purchased our motor home last spring has finally been fixed. Camping World in St. Augustine made the relatively simple fix that was required. We are still waiting for the part to come in to Camping World in St. George, Utah that we apparently don’t need. Go figure.
We went kayaking on the water front of historic St. Augustine and have some video below. The edge of the fort is on the right in the first video with the Bridge of Lions in the distance. The second video is at the marina by the Bridge of Lions. You will notice the pirate ship Black Raven on the right and the demolished Santa Maria restaurant on the left. It was on my list of places to go to dinner. Obviously, that’s not happening. Also, there is a sunk boat in one of the slips and a diver and bunch of guys are in the process of trying to get it up. It will be a long process, so we didn’t wait to see the end.
We saw two pairs of dolphins swimming through the harbor. I saw a ray as we paddled back. It was a beautiful day to kayak.
We walked along South Ponte Vedra Beach yesterday and took the following pictures of some of the damage to the homes. My friend lives in one these homes and was one of the lucky ones. Their deck was damaged and much of their property washed away but they can still live in their house. If they are unable to stop further erosion, it is a matter of time before their house tumbles into the sea.
We took this video of Dart playing with his disc yesterday. Sometimes he spins so much that nothing in his path is safe.
At the end of August, Regis and I purchased 2 kayaks. Since my kayak had to be ordered, the outfitter loaned us a kayak until it came in. We kayaked in North Carolina and a couple times in Florida before my kayak came in the day before our trip to Maryland. Yesterday, we were able to take my new kayak, that I christened Tango, on her maiden voyage. Regis’ kayak is Mango.
We paddled on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and entered from a ramp on the east side. It gave us a good view of some of the damage to the houses, businesses, and docks from Hurricane Matthew. We saw the workers at one of our favorite waterfront restaurants. We look forward to the businesses getting back up and running.
As we got further north, we paddled through the marshes. I kept losing Regis and want to get him a flag for his kayak so I can see it above the marsh grasses. I thought we were going to get lost back there and wind up having to spend the night.
We crossed the ICW after exiting the marsh grasses and came upon a two-seater piece of furniture sitting nicely on a bar of oyster shells. We wondered if it floated there and someone placed it strategically in the spot. It was too perfectly situated to have been random. Perhaps on a future trip we’ll bring a cooler of beverages, pull our kayaks up on the oyster bar, sit on the settee and watch the yachts head south on the ICW for the winter.
We learned a valuable lesson about the current and tides. We started off heading north thinking that would be the hardest part of the trip and heading back would put us with the wind and current on our side. That did not turn out to be the case and I was exhausted by the time we got the kayak to the ramp. I could barely lift it by then. It was a fight against the current to get back. But, it was good exercise for me and it was a beautiful day. (I kept hearing my former personal trainer’s voice in my head egging me on!)
Last evening, I introduced Dart to my friend’s dog Chaco. My friend lives on the beach, so we had the dogs meet on the beach on neutral territory. Dart was smitten. He adores Chaco. Walking that part of the beach was sad. There is so much garbage and pieces of people’s lives still strewn all over the beach. It is dangerous to go in the water because there are boards and other items that can wound you or entangle you. Many of the boards are large and have nails sticking out. I think it will be a long time before everything gets cleaned up.
In my last post, I mentioned how much Dart likes to chase bicyclists when we are on our walks. Most of the bicyclists know him. On our walk this morning, as I saw two cyclists heading our way, I started my bribery overtures with Dart. I used pieces of cheese to try to get him behave. It worked! As the cyclists passed us and realized Dart didn’t lunge or bark at them, one of them yelled “good dog”.
After we got back from the Keys, we headed to Maryland to visit family and friends. Our timing couldn’t have been better. Hurricane Matthew came up the east coast while we were in Maryland and battered St. Augustine, Florida, where we now live. We were fortunate and our house was fine. Others in St. Augustine were not so lucky and lost their homes or experienced significant damage. As we came back home, we had to take a long detour in North Carolina because of the significant flooding.
We are enjoying being back home and plan to spend some time kayaking and looking for some of the birds that are beginning to arrive and pass through Florida. We probably won’t hit the road again until January, so I thought I would take a few posts to share what it is like living with Dart. It may give some insight into what it is like to travel with him.
I will start by describing a typical day at home. When I wake up in the morning, I brush my teeth before I let Dart out. He begins to whine and yip as I finish brushing my teeth because he is excited about going out. He will not go out if Regis tries to let him out. He waits for me. I believe he does that because he knows that I am going to toss his flying disc for him. He can think of nothing else once the day gets started. I have to throw it even if it is still dark outside. I may not be able to see where the disc is, but I can almost always hear him catch it. He must have great night vision. He almost never misses.
After about the third or fourth throw, Dart will drop the disc so he can pee. If we are very fortunate, he will not pee on his disc during this process. He will catch the disc a few more times and then poop. Since this requires more moving around, this is when the disc is most likely to get soiled. Usually, we make it through this okay but sometimes his disc must make a round through the laundry. Then, we have to get a backup disc to finish playing. Dart prefers old, grungy backup discs over new ones.
Once he has had his fill, I bring Dart in to feed him. He waits patiently while I mix his protein, vegetables, and vitamins together. Last January, Dart began to vomit whenever I fed him commercial dog food. Therefore, I started making his food for him. I use Dr. Karen Becker’s book “Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats” for guidance to make sure all his nutrition requirements are met. I have no problems with him when I make his food and he is very healthy. He has hardly any fat on him. As a bonus, his poops are significantly smaller. He loves his food and eats it all. For those of you who read my blog posts last year, you may remember me saying I was going to feed the dogs money because they poop more than they eat. This is no longer true!
Then, I get to eat and Regis makes me a cappuccino. (That’s one reason why he’s a keeper. He makes a GREAT cappuccino.) I read the Washington Post and then get up to go to the bathroom. Dart stands outside the bathroom door and starts yipping and whining. Why? Because he knows the next move is to go for a walk. I come out, put my shoes on, get some treats, put on his leash, and head out the door. The treats are used to try to bribe him to behave.
Dart spends the first block jumping up and grabbing the leash in his mouth. I don’t know why he does this every time and why it only lasts a short while. As we walk, I try to avoid all people and dogs. Dart has leash anxiety. He is fine meeting a dog when he is not on a leash, but he is obviously uncomfortable when restrained. He barks and sometimes growls. Fortunately, most people in our neighborhood walking dogs avoid each other. It’s funny how everyone does this.
I have been using the treats to try to get Dart’s mind off whatever has him riled up. It’s working somewhat, but walking Dart is not a relaxing experience. He also wants to chase trucks, buses, joggers, and bicyclists. Florida has nice weather. There are lots of dog walkers, joggers, and bicyclists. For the most part, I am managing to get him through a neighborhood walk without too much trauma but walking in a campground is much more difficult. I will sometimes look for a local dog park when possible so I can get him off leash when meeting with other dogs.
Dart spends all day keeping a close eye on Regis and me to see if there is any possibility we are going to throw his disc or his ball for him. I have thrown his ball for him 500 times in one round and he shows no sign of wanting to stop. The point of throwing the ball is to give Dart an opportunity to leap and catch it. He will run and chase it but what he wants to do is catch it. Most dogs seem to enjoy sleeping during the day but Dart is not one of them. If he sleeps, he does so very lightly so that if we make any move, he is up on his feet hoping that we are going to play with him. Sometimes, it is nerve wracking. (As I type this, all of Dart’s accessible discs and balls are laying within 10 feet of me and he lying here patiently waiting for me to finish this and play with him.)
Dart also gets fed dinner in the evening and then we eat. Afterwards, we go on our evening walk. Evenings can be more difficult because the kids are out playing and we have to try very hard to avoid them. Lately, we have had some added obstacles. Halloween is coming and lots of houses have decorations up like spiders and other assorted items in the yard. Dart does not like these things. He barks furiously at them. He is convinced they are real and pose an imminent danger. In our last house, we never had a tricker treater because we lived in a rural area. We will have them this year. I’m not looking forward to handling Dart with children in costumes knocking on our door. He is wary of children any way and having them dressed up and at our front door will be more than he can handle. We are going to have to come up with a plan to keep him calm.