Welcome the Praying Mantis!

The praying mantis is the gardener’s friend. It’s a good thing we like them around, because they are formidable and scary enemies of just about every bug.

They can turn their heads 180% when they’re looking for their prey, where they spy them out with two giant compound eyes and three simple eyes for a little extra visual boost. It’s thought they can see as far as 60 feet away. Yikes!

Not only that, but after mating the males are in danger of actually being eaten by their beloved! This is a tough critter, and I’m glad we’re on the same side.

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Pet Chickens

I’ve heard a lot about pet chickens lately. I know quite a few veterinarians, some of whom treat poultry exclusively. Of course most of them are involved in farm animal care, but there is a growing culture of people raising chickens for not only their eggs, but as outdoor pets. Thus the increase in vets as pet chicken doctors.

This amuses me. I’ve always thought chickens were funny animals, with their own little system of government. The “pecking order” is a real thing. You have to be at the top of the group to eat first, get the best roosting spot and so forth. If you notice one hen pecking another for no discernable reason, it could be a reminder of who the stronger bird is.

Even if you are a chicken eater, you’d probably agree that farm raised poultry should be allowed the freedom to be themselves, stretch their wings and legs and eat the diet that they were meant to. I’d venture to say that a happier chicken is a healthier chicken. Makes sense to me!

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Picking the White House Dog

I think the new president and his administration will have their hands full, don’t you agree? Soaring inflation, a falling job market and everything else that goes along with being a leader of the free world. During rough times our pets can give great comfort, and what could be rougher and more challenging than the presidency?

a dog

I hope they find a dog that can be a part of their family; insert lightheartedness and humor when things get rough, help the little girls through their transition as “first children” and so forth. I don’t know if they’ve decided on a dog breed yet, but the opinions flying around the internet are pretty varied.

Rescue dogs are a great choice for a family with lots of time to acclimate a dog that may have come from an abusive or neglectful environment. My choice for them would be a puppy or older dog that was well loved and can easily fit into their lifestyle. It just seems like common sense.

I wish the best for President-elect Obama. Whatever your political leanings are, every one of us should support him, especially in the tough beginning days.

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The Rattlesnake on the Porch

My nephew lives in Arizona with his wife and 2 kids. They recently built a beautiful new house, but like so many rural areas of the country, there were animals who lived there first.

rattlesnake

One evening they returned home and discovered a young rattlesnake curled up on their front step. I’m sure it was innocently enjoying the remainder of the day’s warmth captured in the concrete. After sending his wife and children inside through the garage, Chip attacked it with a shovel (yikes!) but fortunately for the rattlesnake his aim was off. He eventually called on his neighbor, a fireman, to handle the situation.

Since Chip has 2 young children, he now has  to patrol the backyard before the kids go out to play.  That’s something we never worried about back in Ohio!

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Armadillo in the Bushes

My husband and I went for a walk in the Lake Kissimmee Park this weekend. I heard a rustling in the palmetto bushes and made the correct assumption that an armadillo was responsible.

Of course I gloated when the little armored one stepped out into the light and stood up on his back legs, sniffing the air and trying to locate us. (He didn’t) He made us laugh, and we congratulated ourselves on spotting him and being patient enough for him to actually meander out where he could be seen.

I’ve made armadillo jewelry for years, even before I ever saw a live one. (No jokes, please) I happen to think they’re one of the most interesting mammals in the world, and we’re awfully lucky to have them in our country.

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Holiday Pet News

The holidays can be a tricky time for your pets. Mistletoe, poinsettia and other plants can be harmful to both cats and dogs. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement and forget to keep an eye on your small charges.

Pet owners shouldn’t use tinsel on their tree; if an animal ingests it, it can get all tangled up in their intestinal track and cause some real problems. Also,  if your pet loves to drink the tree water (we had a cat who couldn’t get enough of it) be sure it doesn’t have chemical preservatives in it. At the very least, use something natural and harmless in the water.

How about something special for your dog’s holiday dinner? It’s best to keep your pet on her usual diet. A “treat” of turkey or ham can cause stomach upset.

But most important of all, give your pet a lot of extra cuddles and attention. That’s the only gift they really need!

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Butterfly Jewelry to Love

Butterfly jewelry comes in such a variety of styles and colors that adding my own version to the mix was a little daunting! But I love color, and decided to see what I could do to create some interestingly creative designs. I settled on blue, green and lavender butterflies in two color tones with a little sparkle to highlight the design.  My sterling silver and 14K gold butterflies are perfect for a classier look.

I like to think that living in Florida was an inspiration when it came to making butterflies, but the truth is that they can be found almost everywhere on the planet. Some of the most interesting and gorgeous examples are from the rain forest; living jewels in blues, reds and yellows.

But even in homely Ohio where I grew up, butterfly beauty was a part of every summer, and we looked forward to seeing these first harbingers of spring. My interest in these beautiful insects goes back a few decades, and it became time at last to create my own line of butterfly jewelry.

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How Puppies Grow

Is there anything as adorable as a new puppy?

The amazing thing is by their first week of life they’re already able to find each other and their mama using scent and heat receptors they have on their noses, as well as their sense of touch.  In another 2 weeks they begin to see and hear somewhat, although those senses won’t be fully developed for another 2 weeks.

By the age of 5 weeks, the puppy has completely developed his sensory equipment to the level of an adult dog. That is incredible to me- think how long it takes a baby to complete her growth and abilities. If a 5 week old human baby developed that fast she’d be reading books and running across the lawn with her mother chasing after her in a panic.

It’s a good thing for us mother humans that our young take a little longer to develop.

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An Otter Comes to Town

Otters in the middle of a small city? Yesterday Ed and I were passing over a creek that runs under one of the local streets in town. “Hey, look at this!” a woman with her pet shih tzu motioned us across the street where she stood looking into the water below. “Otters!” she said, pointing. I could hardly believe my eyes or my luck.

A pretty good sized otter was diving and surfacing about 20 yards from where we stood. When his head popped up he stared at us, motionless. “Isn’t he cute?” the woman exclaimed. He seemed to be traveling with his mate, and we continued to watch as they dove and surfaced for another couple minutes, then disappeared.

It seems that otters are fairly common in brackish streams in this area, but it’s only the second time I’ve seen one. When we lived near a pond many years ago, we’d occasionally find an otter making himself at home there. That particular pond was alligator free, lucky for that little otter.

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Golden Retriever, Tiger Stepmom

In Golden Retriever Adopts 3 Tiger Cubs at Zoo, I learned something fascinating. One, that a domestic dog would willingly nurse the young of another species (we’re talking about TIGERS here), and two, that it isn’t unheard of. I know how strong the maternal instinct can be, and these lucky tiger cubs are certainly  proof of that.

I believe golden retrievers are one of the most beautiful of all dog breeds. And the ones I’ve been fortunate enough to have a nodding acquaintance with have been calm and loving. It’s hard to believe they can also be fierce hunters. For instance, my dentist has a golden retriever and he regales me with stories of her prowess tracking down and doing in the rabbits and possums who wander onto their property. Poor things, but I suppose it’s not that different than  domestic cats with their penchant for song birds.

I’d love to hear some of your personal golden retriever stories. Any one have a good one out there? You can send me photos too if you’d like and I’ll put them right up there with the blog.

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