Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Case of the Disappearing Coat

Our pet Akita, Kuma, regularly brightens our days. In return for nominal care, she makes us feel special. The normal doggy display of affection when we return home isn't enough for her. She vocalizes her delight to see us in a Darth Vader imitation (albeit gentler and kinder). Even our periodic movements around the house elicit a full greeting with wagging tail. If we're not active enough--for example, when I sit tethered to the keyboard for hours--she takes the initiative and comes to check on how I'm doing.

The only downside to living with an Akita is an overabundance of hair. Globs, singles, lighter-than-air wisps float and settle on every horizontal surface, including the dinner table. As a preventive measure, we bought a Furminator(R). And what a wonderful tool it is. In ten minutes the Furminator can strip a pile of Kuma hair equal in mass to a standard Poodle! That is one vacuum cleaner bag less to remove from the house. The hair comes off in different colors, white and black from the topcoat, a soft gray down from the undercoat.

Needless to say, Furmination is best performed outside. A fairly constant gale blows out of the south. As we remove Kuma's excess coat, the wind scoops and tumbles it. We often wonder how far it will sail, maybe to the Pacific? Hopefully, far beyond our neighbor's pool.

Last weekend, the constant gale ramped up with vengeance and wrenched a branch from one of our precious Oaks. We knew that a Scott's Oriole had nested there, so we were relieved to see him, his mate, and their fledgling safe and sound the next day.

Scott's Oriole

When we examined the downed tree limbs, we found where a piece of Kuma's coat had disappeared. The Orioles had used it as a downy bed for their egg.

Scott's Oriole nest lined with Akita hair.

We were worried that the Orioles would leave us after such a traumatic experience. Not so. Yesterday after we had brushed Kuma, we saw them gathering fluffy beakfuls of hair--no doubt to start lining a new nest.

The moral of the story? Maybe more than one:

  • Recycling isn't new, animals and birds have been doing it all along.
  • What goes around comes around.
  • When your nest gets knocked down, don't despair, make the next one better. It's an ill wind that blows no good.

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