Isn't he a handsome gent? :o) I had given him a hit of "doggy crack" (Metacam) in the morning, and by afternoon he was revved. The 1-mile loop was just enough for him. In fact, he was so excited at the beginning that he bordered on out-of-control and I almost had to stop and take him to task. It was just like the old times! He got in and out of the car fine, didn't show any limpy-arthritis at all. Metacam is truly elixir of the Gods.
After I brought Clifford home, I loaded up Jack and we went for a 3-mile ski down the Erie Canal, starting in Port Byron and going halfway to Weedsport. I was SO psyched to see a Downy woodpecker and Red-Bellied Woodpecker at the start of the trail! Unfortunately I didn't have my telephoto lense, though, so pics came out poorly.
If that wasn't enough, we were skiing down the trail alongside the canal when a long, thick brown animal suddenly plunged off the trail down the bank. It was only a couple feet from Jack, and he paused in shock before diving at it. I dove at Jack at the same time, and thankfully the animal escaped safely down the bank. It went under the ice and was gone. I was (am) really perplexed because it LOOKED like a river otter, but I have never heard of river otters living around here - I thought they were more "wilderness" animals. I've seen muskrats at the canal, but this was too thick and long to be a muskrat; it was so otter-like in shape. Too big to be a weasel. So strange. I took a photo of tracks nearby the spot, and when I got home consulted my "Identifying Animal Tracks" book. I found the perfect tracks to match the photo, but the caption in the book said, "Walking track of the American Alligator." Oops. Okay, I'm NOT that good at reading animal tracks, I guess! I will have to brush up on that!!
Unfortunately the rain came in Christmas day, and the snow turned to mush, then to water, and then changed the ground to mud. Today (the day after Christmas) has been a steady downpour, and my yard is an absolute swamp. For now, the skis have been put away. :o( Where are my hip-waders??