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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

FLD Gus Goes Loony

I am definitely not a bird-killer, but if I have a chance to check off two things on my "to do" list at one time, I'll go ahead and throw that rock.

  1. Tire out FLD Gus.
  2. Find a story to write about for the "Ogemaw Voice," our local paper published twice a month.  (I'm their new freelance writer/photographer covering the Rose City/Lupton area!)


Hike two miles through our woods to the beach area in the Rifle River Recreation Area (RRRA), interview "Explorer Elizabeth" and take a few pictures, hike two miles back through the woods home.


FLD Gus was not interested in the patch of wild raspberries I found en route to the park, but was more than happy to sniff around whilst I nibbled.  As we emerged from the woods at the beach area, he pulled toward the water.  He gave it up when I walked us backwards back into the woods.  Several times.


FLD Gus reluctantly settled while I chatted with Explorer Elizabeth before her engaging presentation about loons.  (There are two nesting pairs in the park.)  Born and raised in Mio, Elizabeth's summer job is hosting Michigan's DNR "Exploring Nature Programs" at RRRA.  Her topic this day was "Feeling Loony."

Explorer Elizabeth, dressed like a loon, posing with her stuffed loon.

FLD Gus was not interested in the stuffed loon Elizabeth displayed on a picnic table next to the beach, and he did not react when she played the loon's call on her "Birdsong Identiflyer."  He was not perturbed when wayward bubbles from a nearby youngster went floating by in front of him.  Gus did perk up at a Jack Russell Terrier that was dragging its owner past us, but he didn't break his position.  And when Elizabeth played "loon tag" with her young audience, Gus didn't even seem to notice.

FLD Gus looking over his shoulder at the swimmers and not taking notice of bubbles floating by him.

What FLD Gus WAS interested in was the kids splashing in the water.  When he thought I wasn't paying attention, he leapt up and tried to join them.

I was ready and he did not.

He tried whining.  Gus wailed so much during Elizabeth's talk it sounded like he was calling the loons!  When whining didn't work, Gus took to barking.  Time for redirection.  Name recognition would not be enough--the distraction was too great.

I moved myself in front of Gus to obstruct his view of the swimmers and commanded him into a DOWN.  I had to physically put him into the DOWN as he tried to look around me, but when I immediately gave him a command to SIT, he turned his focus to me.  And sat!  I was making progress.  Gus, down, I said.  This time he went down on his own.  A finger-poke or two later and he regained his self-control.

FLD Gus, turning his attention back to me


My two-for-one plan turned out to be more productive than I had hoped.  I got my story and FLD Gus got tired out, but I also learned some things about loons.

And Gus practiced self-control with some pretty big distractions!

A lone loon floating on Grousehaven Lake.


  1. Congrats on your new writing job! -Marty

  2. Thanks Marty! How's Diesel doing?