Friday, May 29, 2009

What Not to Wear

High: 53 °F
Low: 48 °F
Conditions: Continual showers. Thunderstorms may be possible.
No one--not even fashion historians--can say for certain from where the rules originate. Even still, any classically-trained fashionista knows them well: no white before Memorial Day. No wool or other winter fabrics from Memorial to Labor Day. No open-toed shoes after that time. And how do these couture mavens feel about such guidelines?

About like this:

I've never considered Ari much of a girly-girl. And certainly I've never pegged her as a Vogue-reading, trend-spotting, rule-following fashion diva. But what else can explain her decision to wait until Memorial Day to begin blowing her coat?

And when I say blowing, I mean it. Check out a photo of today's progress (Complete with mangy bald swath across her lower thigh.)

It's hard work keeping up with antiquated fashion rules. Looking at this much-suffering dog, I'm reminded of W. B. Yeat's poem, "Adam's Curse," in which the poet opines:
. . . . And thereupon
That beautiful mild woman for whose sake
There's many a one shall find out all heartache
On finding that her voice is sweet and low
Replied, 'To be born woman is to know-
Although they do not talk of it at school-
That we must labour to be beautiful.'

And so labor Ari shall, until she's at her summer best. In the meantime, I'm collecting her efforts for my own fashion project.

In case the scale is lost in the photo, that's a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. And it's filled with Ari hair. I'm hopping to spin it and then maybe knit a scarf or hat.

But one important question remains. If my project works, will I be able to wear it before Labor Day?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ari is a Lucky Dog

Lucky us! This week, we will be the featured guests on "The Lucky Dog Show." Hosted by Lisa Woody, the show is a 45-minute call-in program featured on Sirius and Animal Talk Radio. You can listen live (and even call in) on Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. Central time by clicking here. If you miss us, you'll also find the episode archived at the show's homepage.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nursery Tails

High: 77 °F
Low: 41 °F
Conditions: Increasing Clouds.

Signs of spring are all around us. Our neighbors report that the local fox family has given birth to three kits, and rumor has it that mom is letting them spend their early mornings romping in the hay field.

Just this morning, Ari and I found remnants of avian newborns as well:

What I really wanted, though, was to find out what's been happening with our local amphibean population. We've seen them as adults:

And as eggs:

However, our knowledge of what happens in between has always been more theoretical than practical. That is, until today.
It was Ari who found the tadpoles on our morning run. And, in truth, hers was more of an accidental than a deliberate discovery (read: she simply wanted a drink of water).

But once she got past the simple need to alleviate thirst, the canine naturalist was transfixed by what she found: a whole puddle full of these guys.

Left as eggs by their parents (who return to their home ponds), these tadpoles have to weather all kinds of threats to their wellbeing, including porcupines and raccoons.

Those that make it will eventually sprout legs and, driven by primordial DNA, will seek out their elders in the home pond. That is, of course, if they manage to weather a gregarious canine naturalist's doggy paddle first.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wildlife Prairie Park

High: 59 °F
Low: 38 °F
Conditions: Showers likely.
Friends, last week the Adventures with Ari book tour took us to Peoria, IL. While there, we toured Wildlife Prairie Park, a really wonderful animal sanctuary that features indigenous prairie animals (including several extirpated or endangered) in spacious natural settings.

Here are just a few of the residents we observed while there.

Pretty great, huh? But here's the thing: one of Rod Blagojevich's last act as governor was to slash$828,200 from the park budget, leaving them unable to function as a refuge and education center.
We here at caninaturalist center feel strongly about the importance of places like Wildlife Prairie Park, and we hope you do too. Please consider supporting WPP, either by making a donation or sending a letter in support of the outstanding work that they do.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ari on the Morning Airwaves

A few of our followers asked if we would post the interview we did this week on the "Greg and Dan Show." To them we reply: hey, why not?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Will we play in Peoria?

Adventures with Ari is hitting the road. This week, we're travelling to Central Illinois, home of Caterpillar Incorporated, Bradley University, and what is still the largest consumer test market demographic in the country.

For well over a century, everyone from Broadway musical producers to Pepsi stylists have been asking if their show, product, gimick, or great idea will play in Peoria. Now, it's our turn.

On Monday, May 11th, we'll be appearing on the "Greg and Dan Show" on WMBD, Central Illinois's #1 radio talk show. The interview will take place around 8:10 a.m. Central Time, and you can listen live here.

Later that night, we'll be visiting with some book clubs that are currently reading Adventures with Ari.

And, finally, on Tuesday at 5:00 p.m., we'll be giving a reading and book signing at "I Know You Like a Book" in Peoria Heights.

We'll have a full report when we return. In the meantime, hope to see you there!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pilot Fish

High: 52 °F
Low: 44 °F
Conditions: Rain showers throughout the day, could be heavy at times.

Many of you have no doubt heard of the pilot fish (Naucrates ductor), a carnivorous fish that feeds on ectoparasites attached to sharks.

The relationship between a shark and pilot fish is a mutualistic one, in the sense that the pilot fish gets a steady meal while the shark gets the equivalent of a living, swimming heartworm tablet each day.

Here at our house, however, we have a very different kind of pilot animal. Meet Mouse (aka, Peskus felinus):

What does a brazen polydactyly cat have to do with a pilot fish, you might ask?

Good question.

Admittedly, there are some profound similarities between the species. Like a pilot fish, Pilot Mouse spends most of her time hovering around her host animal.

And, also like a pilot fish, Pilot Mouse occasionally grooms her host:

Most of the time, though, she prefers just to hang around the host animal, generally making a nuisance of herself and sometimes annoying said host.

Particularly when that host is trying to eat her breakfast:

Is it a mutualistic relationship? Mouse certainly thinks so. As for Ari, she's pretty sure she doesn't need any grooming help--from a cat or anyone else. And she certainly doesn't need any help figuring out where her food is each morning.

Still, even this independent dog can admit that having a pilot cat around can make for a cozy afternoon.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ready for My Close-Up Now

This past week, Ari and I travelled to the television studios of "207" for an interview about our new book. Here's a link to the clip (in which Miss Ari shows that huskies can go out of their way to avoid appearing on moving, as well as still, film):