Thursday, September 3, 2009

No Bad Dogs Here

Poor unfairly maligned Bailey

Back in July, we took him to a remedial dog training class to learn tactics to make him bark less often.

When we returned from vacation, I noticed this telltale evidence in the garden.

Our violet plants had been beheaded. From year's past, I suspected a groundhog.

If Bailey is barking to keep a critter at bay, and suddenly the week Bailey is gone, the critter is in our garden, I really can't consider Bailey's barking a nuisance.

Annoying perhaps....but Bailey was just doing his job, protecting the house.

I finally caught a glimpse of our fat furry friend.

According to The Joy of Cooking, groundhog (also called woodchuck) is edible.

Don't worry, I won't be cooking him any time soon. Several comments about other woodland finds have asked about whether something is edible. I thought I'd volunteer that info about our groundhog. There are also recipes for rabbit, porcupine, raccoon and opossum in that cookbook!

Bailey, hopefully you'll forgive us for taking you to anti-barking school when really you were telling us it was our responsibility to remove this varmint. Luckily Bailey doesn't hold grudges!

I suspect that winter will solve our groundhog situation for the year. By November, he'll be hibernating in a den he's used in the past. Sleep well little groundhog! You've already spent a few winters in our yard. You're welcome to stay again this year!

More about the photos in this post:

On a photographic note, this picture is what I pulled out of the camera. Through the power of Photoshop, I cropped, and enhanced to get the clearer pictures in this post. Post-processing can do a lot!

Usually I don't start with such dramatically bad pictures. I took this picture quickly out the window and through a screen so that I wouldn't disturb the groundhog. Bailey has him well-trained. As soon as we're up and about, the groundhog makes himself scarce for the day.

I know that Photoshop is expensive, and I find it difficult to learn. I use it because Jim bought it for his photographic I'm just along for the ride.

Another, much less expensive alternative, is Jim has played around with it a bit and is very impressed by its capabilities. If you're looking for ways to improve your photos, you might want to check out picnik!! (I haven't played with it at all. Until our household migrates to new software, I'm sticking with what I know!)


Susan H said...

Great photo! You must have great resolution to be able to zoom in that far. Another note on groundhogs: they can be very hard on foundations, rock walls, etc, as they burrow underneath.

Hilary said...

I have been at war with a whole huge family of wood chucks since I bought the studio 4 years ago. I finally have succeeded in keeping them out of one side of the barn, but they are still using their holes under the porch, and under the other side of the barn, the side with a floor.
They are nuisances, plain and simple.
Eventually I plan to have them evicted from both those places. I just have to be smarter than they are. :)

Renee said...

I love Photoshop even though I don't really know how to use more than a fraction of it. I do hope to remedy that.
Thank goodness our dogs are forgiving creatures. I have at times scolded ours for barking only to find she had good reason! -Renee

Theresa said...

WEll, I am sure Bailey knew you would come around sooner or later. Dogs have so much patience training us don't they? There is always a reason. May not be a very good one, but in Bailey's case it was.
That is a plump little woodchuck! Must have been all those flower tops. :-0 And nice job on editing the picture. I mean I am just managing the red eye, sometimes and let's face it, my photography skills are
pretty limited. It is always a pleasure to view your pictures.

Leigh said...

Very interesting post. The lesson for me here is to investigate causes of animal behavior! Great shots too.

Delighted Hands said...

Be sure and give Bailey a treat and an apology! We like wildlife around but not too close!

synne said...

Hello Sue.
Thanks for the get better wish.
Im feeling better already.
My head is better. No fever, just a litle cough and a litle tired. Im sleeping verry much during the day.
But Im stil alive....

The groundhog day I heard of. But das it exist? I once s mowie about that.
Il think we call a groundhog for murmeldjur in swedish.
Here we have volfs, lynx and bears. Last year there was a cuple of wolfs right outside the farm there we lives.
Im just sorry I didnt se them...
but maybe it was lucky for them.
People here just want to shoot them. They think they are dangerous....

I like the pictures from your forest. It looks almost the same as here.
Yes, the fall clours are coming more for every day. But I dont mind. It is a nice time of the year.

Now I wish you a verry nice weekend. Hope the weather is better than it is here. Rain and windy...
But indoors its nice.
Hugs Synne.

India said...

Thank you for your nice comment on my blogg it made me very happy.
I tried my dog in the wood some years ago I asked him to search for my husband and he just drove in to the woods like a caterpiller. I called him back and told him how bad he was on searching of course my husband must have used the road. When we found him I asked which way he went and he told me he walked through the wood exactly where my dog ran in. How do you apologize to a dog? I felt so bad about not trusting my little friend. But I do not think he remembers it. He is as happy as ever.

charlotte said...

What a cute animal this groundhog is! But I guess it's not so cute anymore when it's eating the garden plants... We don't have groundhogs in Norway, but I think I've seen it in a zoological garden somewhere. I'm impressed that you managed to catch it with the camera, I guess it's quite shy.

bspinner said...

We are surrounded by Amish fields. Groundhogs are more than just a bother to them. If the horses or mules step in one of the groundhog holes it could be the end of a very valuable animal.

This summer there were a family of six under our shed. They had a tunnel from the middle of the Amish neighbors field to under our shed. Bill had to get out one of his guns and get rid of them. Sad but necessary.

As always great pictures.

Life Looms Large said...

Wow - so it sounds like I should be very grateful to Bailey for keeping this groundhog right on the edge of our property. I didn't realize they could damage foundations.

The camera I use has a mode that makes giant pictures, but they have pretty high resolution. Then, when I process them, I make them smaller so that my blog doesn't take forever to load - and so I don't use up all the photo space blogger allows me in a year!

I've also barely scratched the surface of photoshop. Luckily Jim knows it well, so when I get stuck, he bails me out. (I did rescue this picture myself though!!)

That groundhog is really fat. He's getting ready for winter. Too bad I can't use that excuse for myself!!!

Synne, glad you're feeling better. (She's had swine flu.) I expect that between wolves, lynxes and bears, groundhogs don't stand much of a chance at your place!!!

It is interesting how often dogs try to communicate with us and we don't understand. (I'll try to remember that next time I'm trying to tell Bailey to stay away from a porcupine - or something else that I don't really have a command for!)

I've been thinking about whether groundhogs are shy. I'd say they're cautious and run away as soon as they see people or dogs, but in our area, they tend to live near houses or near roads. I'm guessing that keeps them safe from predators, but they have to stay on their toes to stay away from people in their yards.

For now, I'll continue to tolerate our groundhog, but if he gets near our foundation we'll have to relocate him. (We relocated 5 porcupines one winter after our dog Kodi got quilled twice within a few weeks. Hopefully moving one groundhog would be easier!)

Wishing you a rodent-free weekend!


Susan H said...

Good luck with the groundhogs all.... we've found alas that it's Not Usually Just One. They can be quite brazen too... ours built themselves a little entrance ramp to their door by the frog pond (the burrow that's caving in the old barn foundation...)
One friend suggested tossing mothballs in the hole... she tried that once though and the groundhog kept tossing them back out...

Sharon said...

Oh poor Bailey! We are at war with ground squirrels and they looks suspiciously like your wood chucks. Our poor adopted lab has been at war with them, but so far has only delivered two to the door step. I suspect that was for demonstrating that she loves us and we should love her and keep her. She's safe~