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Birding with pets


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Making this thread so as not to fill @chipperatl's thread with off-topic posts.

Show off your non-human birding buddies -- dogs, cats, whatever!  Also feel free to share tips on how to enjoy wildlife and be with your pets at the same time.

I'll start with my Boston Terrier watching turkeys cross the yard.  She gets a "mohawk" when she's excited. ?  Please ignore the dog slobber all over the window...

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And this is our former neighbor's cat who would follow us around while we birded the road.

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As I mentioned in the other thread.  My buddy doesn't go with me when it is prime migration time.  Basically Mid-April through May, in the morning.  I often will come back and get him though for the drive around.  So our day will look like.

  • By myself at a Preserve/Park/Trail to take my time and be focused on birds (3-4 hours)
  • Get my pup, and drive around to potential shorebird spots, or lakes.  More stop and scan stuff.  
  • Evening time we may head out for a walk, where birds are 51% of the focus.  The rest is on him getting some exercise.  Often at a Nature Area that has a section he can jump in the lake at, since he loves the water.

Winter time he will come with me and walk anywhere I end up walking to look for stuff.  Much easier since less species to worry about, and don't have to focus around leaves or anything like that.  

He used to be horrible at trying to bird with.  He would get flustered with my slow speed and start doing "zoomies" and yank me around.  He is up to about 75% of the time responding to me saying "Stop" and actually stopping and walking back to me.  Just takes some work, but he is a working dog and very smart so this has been easier.  On our trip to N.C. he was near perfect in behavior, but not made for the heat and sun.  So birding was short bursts away from the truck and then back in to Max AC.  

He doesn't pay much attention to the birds.  The turkeys that are often in the yard don't bother him too much.  He has "chased" after them once.  I called him off chasing a coyote when he was probably 6 months old, and was impressed with him actually stopping after a few steps.  He even responded off-leash with rabbits, not chasing them.  Did have him a couple of weeks ago run after one while still on leash.  It surprised both of us around a corner.  

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Took my dog with me one morning as I woke her up when I was getting ready. Cue a ten minute bark fest along the beach at 5am because she saw a killdeer. Despite her small size (miniature dachshund), she has a really loud bark, so I'm sure my neighbors loved that. 

I leave her inside or at home when I'm birding, but I do turn her walks into birding. She has too strong of a prey drive and will chase/bark at anything that moves so not the best birding companion... One time she got out accidentally and chased a mule deer down the road, which was pretty funny to see, but all the deer had to do was step on her and she'd be a goner. 

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My Dorie did very well during this evening's birding walk.  While she did whine a couple times when I stopped for too long (she whines about the tiniest inconveniences), she did mostly enjoy stopping and sniffing at the side of the road or even watching the birds and squirrels.  No barking and no lunging (Bostons are only terrier-ish :classic_tongue:)!  I took advantage of the times she wanted to stop to listen for birds.  I used a bungee leash with hooks on both sides and attached it to my belt.

dorieonwalk.jpg.8edf8d87bb16a0b7c6948b4bccf3633b.jpg

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51 minutes ago, Aaron said:

Took my dog with me one morning as I woke her up when I was getting ready. Cue a ten minute bark fest along the beach at 5am because she saw a killdeer. Despite her small size (miniature dachshund), she has a really loud bark, so I'm sure my neighbors loved that. 

I leave her inside or at home when I'm birding, but I do turn her walks into birding. She has too strong of a prey drive and will chase/bark at anything that moves so not the best birding companion... One time she got out accidentally and chased a mule deer down the road, which was pretty funny to see, but all the deer had to do was step on her and she'd be a goner. 

Awww, I love dachshunds.  I can see the image in my head of a mini dachshund chasing a mule deer!

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Posted (edited)

We've had eight or nine dachs on both sides of the family over the decades.  They came with a wide range of personalities but every one of them was as hard-headed as a cinder block.  Stubborn little beasts with a 'can do' attitude in a 'can't do' body.

We had a friend with a small pond where several half-tame ducks would hang out.  One wiener would chase the ducks into the water and then plow in after them.  She'd paddle around, head up and ears streaming behind.  Her body would be under the water but about a foot back would be her tail, spinning like a propeller, as it was a completely independent object.

The collective noun should be 'a barking of dachshunds'.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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2 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

We've had eight or nine dachs on both sides of the family over the decades.  They came with a wide range of personalities but every one of them was as hard-headed as a cinder block.  Stubborn little beasts with a 'can do' attitude in a 'can't do' body.

We had a friend with a small pond where several half-tame ducks would hang out.  One wiener would chase the ducks into the water and then plow in after them.  She'd paddle around, head up and ears streaming behind.  Her body would be under the water but about a foot back would be her tail, spinning like a propeller, as it was a completely independent object.

The collective noun should be 'a barking of dachshunds'.

They sound like such entertaining little doggies! 

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IMG_8183-3

Shadow has been an asset and a hindrance when it comes to birding. On many occasions she'll be intensely focused on something that often alerts me to a previously unseen bird. She's been praised for bringing our attention to birds soaring overhead by staring up into the sky so often that when we say, "where's the hawk", Shadow will automatically start scanning the sky for birds. I guess the only real hindrance to birding with Shadow is having to split my focus between the birds and the dog, with the dog usually getting most of my attention because of her health risks. 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, lonestranger said:

IMG_8183-3

Shadow has been an asset and a hindrance when it comes to birding. On many occasions she'll be intensely focused on something that often alerts me to a previously unseen bird. She's been praised for bringing our attention to birds soaring overhead by staring up into the sky so often that when we say, "where's the hawk", Shadow will automatically start scanning the sky for birds. I guess the only real hindrance to birding with Shadow is having to split my focus between the birds and the dog, with the dog usually getting most of my attention because of her health risks. 

Beautiful photo of Shadow!  Does she have a sensitive stomach or allergies?  My dogs do...my larger dog nearly died twice because of it...

Edited by The Bird Nuts
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27 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

Beautiful photo of Shadow!  Does she have a sensitive stomach or allergies?  My dogs do...my larger dog nearly died twice because of it...

Shadow is epileptic and although she hasn't had a seizure in years, I am always paranoid of the next seizure happening when we're out walking. I wouldn't say she has a sensitive stomach because she'll eat just about anything she can get her mouth on if we let her. Unfortunately that led to her eating something toxic a few years back that caused her to start bleeding out, which led to $5000 in vet bills to save her. I won't pay those kind of vet bills again, so I keep a close eye on her and always have her on a leash so she can't try running away from a seizure if she feels one coming on.

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Posted (edited)
44 minutes ago, lonestranger said:

Shadow is epileptic and although she hasn't had a seizure in years, I am always paranoid of the next seizure happening when we're out walking. I wouldn't say she has a sensitive stomach because she'll eat just about anything she can get her mouth on if we let her. Unfortunately that led to her eating something toxic a few years back that caused her to start bleeding out, which led to $5000 in vet bills to save her. I won't pay those kind of vet bills again, so I keep a close eye on her and always have her on a leash so she can't try running away from a seizure if she feels one coming on.

WOW...$5000??!!  I'm so sorry to hear that but so glad you could save her.  I can't imagine the stress.  My dogs seem to want to eat everything as well.

I hope you don't have the long drives and long wait times we have here for emergency vets.  We drove an hour just for them to say there is a six hour wait time.  The vet said she was surprised our dog wasn't dead.  And we still don't know what the problem was; all we can do is keep her from eating things she shouldn't.

I do think I remember you saying Shadow is epileptic now.  Good to hear you have her seizures under control.

Edited by The Bird Nuts
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18 hours ago, lonestranger said:

IMG_8183-3

Shadow has been an asset and a hindrance when it comes to birding. On many occasions she'll be intensely focused on something that often alerts me to a previously unseen bird. She's been praised for bringing our attention to birds soaring overhead by staring up into the sky so often that when we say, "where's the hawk", Shadow will automatically start scanning the sky for birds. I guess the only real hindrance to birding with Shadow is having to split my focus between the birds and the dog, with the dog usually getting most of my attention because of her health risks. 

I probably should have included that my walks with Shadow are usually just around the house and down the road a bit where I'll take my P&S, IF I take a camera with me. Our birding type walks usually free my hands up for the bigger cameras/lenses because MJ usually has Shadow's leash when there's two of us. That is until we run into another dog, that's when MJ passes me the leash because she's so afraid the other dog will attack Shadow when all Shadow ever wants to do is play and sniff the other dog's good bits.

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Just noticed this thread. Toby (a parti-coloured Schnauzer) with a Kingfisher in the background, still very much missed after four years (although not very forgiving of extended birding stops). Other close encounters with a deer, a Snapping Turtle and other miscellaneous wildlife available.

Kingfisher (1 of 1).jpg

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Ruthie is a beagle/dachshund mix.  Birdwatching with her can be a mixed bag... Around our own house she can occasionally scare off birds with her barking and howling, but out on a hike in the forest, she's quieter, and conveniently, she keeps the pace nice and slow, so I can snap pictures of birds while she sniffs around and follows her beagle nose!

DSCN1961.JPG

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With all due respect @The Bird Nuts, in your first picture, I don't think your pooch is "birding".  Looks more like
"grocery shopping" to me.   Mmmmmmm.... turkey....  ?

Here is mine (a rescue mutt).  She is getting old and the birds don't show her much respect.   When she heads out into my back yard, the birds don't even fly away from the feeders.  Which is nice when I am sitting out on my patio watching for migrants.  She sits with me and it doesn't bother the birds in the least.

 

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2 hours ago, Jim W said:

With all due respect @The Bird Nuts, in your first picture, I don't think your pooch is "birding".  Looks more like
"grocery shopping" to me.   Mmmmmmm.... turkey....  ?

? I don't know if she'd know what to do with it IF she caught one.  Then again...she does eat June beetles...

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On 6/9/2022 at 11:32 PM, The Bird Nuts said:

WOW...$5000??!!  I'm so sorry to hear that but so glad you could save her.  I can't imagine the stress.  My dogs seem to want to eat everything as well.

I hope you don't have the long drives and long wait times we have here for emergency vets.  We drove an hour just for them to say there is a six hour wait time.  The vet said she was surprised our dog wasn't dead.  And we still don't know what the problem was; all we can do is keep her from eating things she shouldn't.

I do think I remember you saying Shadow is epileptic now.  Good to hear you have her seizures under control.

Just like you, we had an hours drive to the after hours vet clinic, we didn't have to wait though, the vet was expecting us. Shadow had been bleeding out from her rectum long enough to create a puddle of blood about a foot in diameter before we realized there was even a problem.

When we got to the vet about midnight on that Saturday night, it took about 10-15 minutes waiting before the vet told us that she had lost a lot of blood and her body temperature was so low that she should already be dead. He'd never seen a dog with such a low body temperature and he wanted us to know that she probably wasn't going to make it before he went any further. As close to death as she was, she still had that spark of life in her eyes that I wasn't prepared to extinguish so we told the vet to do what he could.

After x-rays and ultrasounds to eliminate the possibility of a blockage, the vet showed us where Shadow had been shot and explained how the 3 pellets showing up on x-ray might be lead pellets. They weren't relevant to Shadow's illness but he pointed out that they may cause other issues later in life. He also pointed out that they might be steel and the risk would be minimal. It didn't really matter since surgically removing the pellet near her spine wasnt feasible.

On Monday morning we had to find a vet to take over the duty of keeping Shadow alive because the After Hours Clinic was ONLY After Hours service, Shadow had to be out of the emergency clinic by 9am. The clinic helped us find a more local vet that could take over the immediate problem of pulling her back from the edge of death. We had to wrap Shadow in blankets with hot packs to keep her warm, and heat the intravenous tube before the fluids entered her body, load her in the car and drive her to vet clinic #2 of 3.

Vet #2 was not a 24 hour clinic but they must have seen something in Shadow worth saving because they found a volunteer to spend Monday night with her so that MJ and I could figure out what to do next, if anything. At this point Shadow was off her anti-siezure meds because her liver was at risk so she needed to be on constant seizure watch. 

We had decided to wait until we saw  Shadow on Tuesday before making that really tough life or death decision, and am I ever glad we did. When we left Shadow on Monday morning she was still a dying dog, while the first vet saved her life to this point, she wasn't out of the woods yet, not by a long shot. When we called the vet later in the day, not much had changed, which was a good thing considering the change that might have happened. It was during that phone call that the vet offered to keep Shadow overnight and we'd see what the morning brings.

We called the vet Tuesday morning and the receptionist sounded very positive about Shadow's condition so we jumped in the car and 15 minutes later we saw Shadow get up and greet us with her spinning tail and eyes full of life. She was weak and unsteady on her feet, but I wasn't looking at a dying dog anymore, she was full of life and the next decision was easy to make.

She needed some more full time care, so we made arrangements to admit her to the nearby Veterinary College. She spent about 5 days with the 3rd group of vets/students while under 24 hour seizure watch until we could start her on new medication that didn't affect her liver.

I think the total for all 3 vets was $4879 or something in that range. It was definitely a big gamble right from the beginning. We're not wealthy and the credit card took a major hit, but I can honestly say that I have gotten a better return on that $5000 gamble than all my other cash bets combined. I wouldn't have spent that kind of money to save any of my previous dogs, and I won't spend that kind of money on any pets in the future. What can I say, Shadow is special, in more ways than I can describe, so she got that once in a lifetime special treatment.

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4 hours ago, lonestranger said:

Just like you, we had an hours drive to the after hours vet clinic, we didn't have to wait though, the vet was expecting us. Shadow had been bleeding out from her rectum long enough to create a puddle of blood about a foot in diameter before we realized there was even a problem.

When we got to the vet about midnight on that Saturday night, it took about 10-15 minutes waiting before the vet told us that she had lost a lot of blood and her body temperature was so low that she should already be dead. He'd never seen a dog with such a low body temperature and he wanted us to know that she probably wasn't going to make it before he went any further. As close to death as she was, she still had that spark of life in her eyes that I wasn't prepared to extinguish so we told the vet to do what he could.

After x-rays and ultrasounds to eliminate the possibility of a blockage, the vet showed us where Shadow had been shot and explained how the 3 pellets showing up on x-ray might be lead pellets. They weren't relevant to Shadow's illness but he pointed out that they may cause other issues later in life. He also pointed out that they might be steel and the risk would be minimal. It didn't really matter since surgically removing the pellet near her spine wasnt feasible.

On Monday morning we had to find a vet to take over the duty of keeping Shadow alive because the After Hours Clinic was ONLY After Hours service, Shadow had to be out of the emergency clinic by 9am. The clinic helped us find a more local vet that could take over the immediate problem of pulling her back from the edge of death. We had to wrap Shadow in blankets with hot packs to keep her warm, and heat the intravenous tube before the fluids entered her body, load her in the car and drive her to vet clinic #2 of 3.

Vet #2 was not a 24 hour clinic but they must have seen something in Shadow worth saving because they found a volunteer to spend Monday night with her so that MJ and I could figure out what to do next, if anything. At this point Shadow was off her anti-siezure meds because her liver was at risk so she needed to be on constant seizure watch. 

We had decided to wait until we saw  Shadow on Tuesday before making that really tough life or death decision, and am I ever glad we did. When we left Shadow on Monday morning she was still a dying dog, while the first vet saved her life to this point, she wasn't out of the woods yet, not by a long shot. When we called the vet later in the day, not much had changed, which was a good thing considering the change that might have happened. It was during that phone call that the vet offered to keep Shadow overnight and we'd see what the morning brings.

We called the vet Tuesday morning and the receptionist sounded very positive about Shadow's condition so we jumped in the car and 15 minutes later we saw Shadow get up and greet us with her spinning tail and eyes full of life. She was weak and unsteady on her feet, but I wasn't looking at a dying dog anymore, she was full of life and the next decision was easy to make.

She needed some more full time care, so we made arrangements to admit her to the nearby Veterinary College. She spent about 5 days with the 3rd group of vets/students while under 24 hour seizure watch until we could start her on new medication that didn't affect her liver.

I think the total for all 3 vets was $4879 or something in that range. It was definitely a big gamble right from the beginning. We're not wealthy and the credit card took a major hit, but I can honestly say that I have gotten a better return on that $5000 gamble than all my other cash bets combined. I wouldn't have spent that kind of money to save any of my previous dogs, and I won't spend that kind of money on any pets in the future. What can I say, Shadow is special, in more ways than I can describe, so she got that once in a lifetime special treatment.

All I can say is WOW.  Your vets are great and Shadow is a tough girl.

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A little back story before I share another example of how special Shadow is.

MJ and I rent a small 2 bedroom house on farm property in Mennonite country. The owner lives in the main century(s) old farm house and rents an apartment out to a lady and her 3 teenage children. When we first moved in there were cats everywhere and MJ and I did our best to distance ourselves and not get attached to the cats. Then Peanut showed up on our side deck, parking herself in my chair and not moving from it for days. She was thin as thin could be, but she was a farm cat that we didn't really want hanging around so we didn't put any food out for her in the hopes that she would move on and not create problems for the two dogs we had at the time. We gave her a bowl of water which she dove into as if she'd been deprived of it all her life. After three days of watching the cat starve to death on our doorstep, we broke down and decided to put food out for her. After feeding her for a few weeks she started to fill back out and get that healthy look to her. She wasn't a friendly cat, she's scratched and bitten me on many occasions but she started to come around after a while and started to let us pet her. Peanut ended up getting pregnant and raised three kittens in a heated box on our side deck. When the temps plummeted well below freezing we opened our doors and finally accepted Peanut into our house. We found homes for all three kittens and promptly got Peanut fixed as soon as the kittens were gone. Peanut was already pregnant again so they had to abort the pregnancy when they fixed her. Here's a photo of Peanut relaxing with us while we watch birds on the front deck.

7A0E60B1-CADF-417C-B5B8-D93967D71449_1_105_c.thumb.jpeg.47314813c7c21d99ccbc2e2164023347.jpeg

 

As I mentioned there are many cats on the farm and it seems that at least one of them is always pregnant or nursing kittens, quite often on my neighbours doorstep. Like us, she doesn't want to take responsibility for the cats, but she can't stand by and watch them die so she has been helping out anyway she can, food and water, bedding, outdoor shelter, etc.. One of the cats that she knew was pregnant went across the road somewhere to have her kittens. She watched the cat cross the road to come to the house for food on many occasions but could never follow the cat back to check up on the kittens, all she knew was that there were young kittens across the road, somewhere. 

It was Monday or Tuesday of last week when the mother cat got hit by a car crossing the road and had to be put down. We all started looking for the kittens knowing that they wouldn't last very long on their own. I hate to admit that I was the first to give up on the search, it just seemed hopeless with all possible hiding places a cat might give birth in. The fence line was our main focus, but the kittens could have been anywhere in the field. After three days of searching everyone had accepted the fact that the only way the kittens could still be alive was if one of the other lactating cats had taken over feeding the kittens, which we all hoped was the case.

On Monday of this week, MJ took Shadow for an after dinner walk. As they were walking down the road, Shadow became alert to something in the ditch so MJ slowly gave Shadow more leash so she could go check it out. Shadow found the kittens right along the fence line where we had previously searched many times. MJ wasn't sure what Shadow had found at first until she heard very faint meowing. MJ texted our neighbour and called her out front to share the good news. They retrieved two kittens from the fence line and the next day found a home that could properly care for them.

I don't know if Shadow's sensitive hearing alerted her to the kittens or if she used her nose to pick up their scent, but she became the hero of the day and put a big smile on everyone's face. In fact, that pretty much sums up why Shadow is so special. She just has a magic way of putting a smile on our faces, quite often when we need it most.

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