Starting the Year in Nature

1 Debra Otis Rear sm

I really like to start a new year the way I want the year to unfold. It’s definitely one of my resolutions.

So Debra and I packed up the Plott Hound’s backpacks with their water and bowl and headed over to our favorite local nature patch, John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge.

Otis and Morgan model their backpacks

Otis and Morgan model their backpacks

Oddly, it was just last week that I was lamenting how few ducks were around at Cambridge Waterfront because the winter had been too mild and more northern waterways hadn’t yet frozen over, which meant the ducks had no need to move further south.

Debra and Otis

Debra and Otis

But what a difference a week makes!

Now it is cold, gray, and dreary, and the impoundment at Heinz refuge is frozen over. So I am lamenting how few ducks and other birds are to be found here because now they’ve moved further south.

We put Morgan and Otis, our 2 beloved rescue Plott Hounds into their back packs for 2 reasons.

  1. It was really cold, and the packs help keep them warm, and
  2. They are boisterous dogs and we follow the adage that our first dog trainer taught us: “Tired dogs are good dogs.” So they earn their own way by carrying their own supplies

Part of our process when we take the dogs birding is that they practice sitting and staying, and we’ve found that this works best when they have a platform to keep them contained, so park benches are a great way to do this.

Otis’ Headshots

1 Otis Face sm

We call Otis the “Mayor of Dogtown” because nothing gets him more excited than to meet new dogs and get them to romp with him.

1 Otis Profile sm

When we got him he was terribly scared of people, including us, but now he’s decided he loves to have his head scratched, so he comes to us for pets. Of course their are still some people that he obviously doesn’t like, and we trust his judgement.

1 Otis Underbite sm

He’s about 9 years old now. He came to live with us when he was approximately 2. Apparently he wasn’t well taken care of in his other home, but we’re thrilled that he’s come to be with us.

Morgan Modeling

1 Morgan Profile sm

Morgan came to live with us when she was about 5 months old, and now she’s about 7 years old. We don’t know for sure because we adopted her from a shelter.

1 Morgan Eyes sm

Since both her coat and her eyes are so dark, normally it’s hard to see her eyes unless she looks sideways and we can see the whites of her gorgeous brown eyes. But in the sunshine we get to enjoy her beautiful brindle coat.

1 Morgan Face sm

When Morgan was a puppy, she loved everyone and everything, and happily romped with other dogs. Now she’s decided she’s scared of other dogs (except Otis), and she shows her fear by being a barky, snappy bitch. So sometimes Otis gets to go to the dog park all by himself so he can romp and Morgan can relax at home and stay out of trouble.

1 Morgan Pack sm

Two years ago Morgan had to have cruciate ligament surgery because she convinced her fairy dog mother Aunt Kathy that it was ok to race around and roll Otis down the hill for hours at a time. Fortunately for her (and us), the surgery was a smashing success, and all seems well again.

See also my description of our New Years nature walk at Heinz to see the wonders we discovered on our first birding adventure of the new year.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Check out my new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week, teaching you to garden sustainably, conserve natural resources, and create welcoming habitat for birds and other wildlife in your garden.


  1. […] year we packed up our Plott Hounds and headed to our favorite local nature patch, the John Heinz National Wildlife […]