Sunday, February 01, 2009

That Elusive Great Blue Heron & My Dogs


That darn Great Blue should know me by now. Wouldn’t ya think? One look at me and it takes off,


because I’m so scary,



high-stepping at one-quarter mile an hour


until it rounded the corner out of my view. Alrighty then.

I was a week overdue for some morning sun and found myself at the grocery store pond again. It’s where I leave everything behind, relax, and reflect. The frigid air made my eyes water and fingers numb but I didn’t mind it.


One more Belted Kingfisher snapshot taken through the windshield.

World, national, and local news has been on my mind too often and my effort to ignore it or to take it all in stride is worthless. Bad news has been relentless, like annoying swarms of gnats that won’t go away. And the feeling of powerlessness is frightening.


Gosh, the hardships... I hear you. Yes, no one needs a reminder.


Great Blue won’t get away from me so easily when I’m determined. I drove around the pond and found that heron in a picture-perfect spot facing the rising sun.


I found a path near the water’s edge. Glorious, ey?

And while I feel immensely sympathetic to those who are losing retirement income, jobs, and homes, I saw a segment on local news and Good Morning America this week that cut me like a knife.

Across the country, animal shelters are filling up with dogs and cats that can no longer be cared for by their owners due to economic hardships. Family pets. Yes indeed, times are tough. And I also realize too many Americans have disposable lifestyles but loading Fido into the back of the car and dropping him off at a shelter is the most selfish act of all. It doesn’t matter how much the pet was loved or not loved. The fact is, it had a home. What kind of person can walk way from an innocent animal, a member of the family, and leave it to cower in a wire cage with an undetermined fate? Sorry, but I’d need to physically shake and slap the owners – who don’t even deserve the joy a pet offers. Is there no compassion, man?


For you, Chloe and Bella, we’d share our Cheerios if it were all we could afford for dinner. We would sell my nicest bling for your heartworm meds and distemper shots.

Oh, the horrid thought of giving up the girls is enough to make me sick.

Rant over.



jane augenstein said...

Oh, Mary it is so horrible to think of the poor animals that get turned in to the animal shelters. I cry when I think of it and have to hug my critters and give them kisses. The poor animals must be terrified to be left and wonder why their families are doing this to them; I have nightmares about things like this. I can't go to animals shelters because I would want to bring them all home. I already have a house full as it is. Wish they could all find good forever homes.
Your girls look so cute with the lipstick kissed heads! :-)

Dog_geek said...

I know what you mean. I could never, ever leave my animals at the pound. There's just no way. We would all run off and live in the woods together first!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I hear you about the people that dump their dogs at the shelter. All I can say is that at least they don't dump them on a country lane to face an often more bleak future.

Beautiful photos. I can never get a Great Blue or a Kingfisher to ever sit still long enough for a shot.

Vickie said...

You got some really nice shots of that heron after all. Love the kiss you planted each of your puppies heads.

Kerri Farley said...

Oh Mary...what stunners you have of the Heron! And LOVE that Belted Kingfisher....I would LOVE to get a shot like that!!

LOVE the kisses you planted on your pups!

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Unfortunately, Mary, many people feel just like that ---their dogs or pets come LAST. That's why you hear stories of so many starving and abused animals. Drives me crazy.. How could ANYONE do that???? Gads!!!!

Great picture of the heron...

Debbie said...

In a society where divorce is rambant and child abuse through the roof, it is no wonder that pets are also thought of as disposable. We live in a sinful fallen world...God help us.

Lovely photos, Mary. I always can count on a visual pick-me-up on your blog.

We've adopted five children, maybe it is time to visit our local animal shelter and add another furry friend to our family.

Carol Michel said...

I don't have any dogs or cats, but I feel the same way. Even if it came to a choice between your pets and your children, work with someone to find a good home for the children... oops, I meant pets, so they can continue to be loved.

There was an article in our local paper about all the horses that are being given away to shelters because their owners can no longer afford to board them someplace or feed them.

I don't know what it means but the word verification I got for this comment is... frucker... Mary, what does that mean??

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Kim said...

Great pictures of the heron and kingfisher.

I too can't understand people who give up their pets. I would work two jobs in order to feed my pets. It already costs me an arm in a leg because I have taken in so many strays over the years but they are so worth it.

Cheer up Mary. Better times are ahead. They have to be.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic Heron pictures!
I feel the same as you about pets.
I think that when you acquire a pet it's a lifetime commitment...they are one of the family.

Kathleen said...

Lipstick kisses = JOY! It is good to be loved and your girls KNOW they are adored!

When a pet comes to live here, he or she has a home for life. There is always a way.

JeanMac said...

That's so sad about pets being dropped at shelters. I imagine it's happening up here, too.
I love the girls' kisses!

Robin's Nesting Place said...

You finally got your perfect shots of the heron, Mary!

Love those kissy lips on the dog's heads!

Diane AZ said...

The blue heron looks elegant in your pictures. Yes, too bad about the pets being sent to shelters in the news lately. Your girls are so lucky, and cute!

Anonymous said...

Stunning photos Mary! Love the Kingfisher and the little kisses on the puppies! :)

Heidi said...

That thought makes me sick to my stomach as well. These jackasses never should have had pets in the first place if all they think is a box building where you keep your crap is a home... the family is the home! It's probably been growing all over the country, but nearly 2 years ago I heard my first story on the local news about it. As soon as the 15 year ARM mortgages went up, people's monthly payment became more than they took home... they obviously lost what they couldn't afford in the first places, and a good number of them dumped their pets... some didn't bother to go to the shelters.

Word is that our Tango & Cash's mama was an abandoned housepet. Thank God she was found and taken in by an organization that will not let cats be shelter-kills.

But let's cheer up by looking at your stellar pics... those last two of the GBH are awesome with the light! So glad you stalked the guy ;) And then the Licker Sisters at the pond... hilarious and artistic all at once! Thanks Mary!

J.G. said...

Hear, hear. Practically everything is negotiable in my life . . . except the cat! She stays, period.

And when there is a little squeak in the old budget, I pass it along to a shelter or food bank. They need it!

Anonymous said...

Mary, you have taken me through a complete range of emotions with this post- as I scrolled down, the heron pics just kept getting better and better- I was saying out loud 'wow' followed by another, louder "WOW"; then I burst out laughing at the lipstick kisses on the girls' head; then I almost dissolved into tears at the thought of so many pets left at the pound, frightened, scared, alone... sniff... and just for the record, I DO share my cheerios with my beloved dog Zoe- every night she gets cheerios and milk before bed!!
hugs, gretchen

Mary said...

Hi Gretchen! I sincerely hope that the majority of pet owners are also "pet lovers" as we are. Chloe & Bella each get a few Trix or Alpha Bits from Michael every morning whether they should have it or not.

A New England Life said...

So many pet lovers! How wonderful!

I just got after my niece who was going to give her cat up to the SPCA because she and her hubby thought he had another UTI, and he's less than a year old! He and their other cat are best friends, how could she do that? I told her they are her first children. Don't let him go. Hopefully it made an impression! You know I love my fur babies.

You are a stalker for sure! Keep it up and you and the Heron will be on a first name basis! Now if I could only find some water that isn't frozen ...

Gosh I hope the economy gets better too! It's freaking me out!

Wendy said...

It's hard to ignore all the bad news in the media. I'm glad you can escape to the lake and take some terrific pics for us. You got some really wonderful pics of that blue heron. And the kingfisher.
Love the kisses on your doggies.
And I totally agree - those pet owners should never have pets! Very sad!

nina at Nature Remains. said...

I see those lipstick kisses, Mary.
Your dogs are fortunate to have such a caring and loving mom.
And, I'm jealous of the pond where you shop--but, doesn't your ice cream melt while you're heron stalking?

Mary said...

Ho Mary,
Thanks for visiting my blog, and for your kind comments. :)

I am amazed at your photos, especially the heron. What a beautiful bird, and you have captured it so well!

I can't imagine how anyone could leave their pet at a pound! I certainly couldn't!


Naturegirl said...

Mary the photos of the blue heron fabulous! The report of the people giving up their family heart just aches over this! I don't know how people you I am sure there are some frivolous spending on things other than pets and their care.I could NEVER give up my pets!
I'm just reading Carol's comment about the horses given away to shelters!! Oh my heart is sick.

RuthieJ said...

What do you mean frigid? I didn't even see any ice on that pond!

Your doggehs are so cute--especially with those big "kisses" on their foreheads.

Our local animal shelter gives us the opportunity to become a "guardian angel" for a shelter animal with a monthly donation. I can't afford another pet at home, but for only $10 a month, Simpson is a very cute doggeh the shelter chose for me to help take care of until he finds a home of his own.

Country Girl said...

Hi, Mary. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Love your heron pics! We just moved last fall but had lived for nearly 10 years below the canal (C&D) on a horse farm. We lived in a house on a hill, overlooking a pond. I miss all the birds and the horses.
Here's another wildlife photographer I visit:
She doesn't post all that often, but when she does, they're beautiful. Nice to meet you, too!

Angie said...

Another set of "WOW" photos, woman!! I love seeing the Belted Kingfisher and that Red-Winged Blackbird---oh oh oh!!! I can't EVEN go there about the pets---instant tears---your sweet Chloe and Bella with their 'lipstick kisses' are just too precious!! One who has never known the love of a pet will never understand the total love, devotion and need they have for us---and us for THEM!! :)

linda said...


i can almost hear the GBH saying "grack"~

Rose said...

Beautiful photos of the heron, Mary. But most of all, I love those lipstick stains on your puppies:) They know they're loved!

My granddaughter and I volunteer at the local animal shelter about once a week. I've noticed the last two weeks, several new animals whose tags said, "Reason for surrendering--cost." A few of them were cats--how much does it cost to keep a cat?? I'm with you, Mary; we'd cut out the cable, eating out, whatever before we'd surrender one of our pets.

NatureWoman said...

You take the most awesome bird photos, Mary! I love the kisses on your girls' foreheads!

Tina said...

Mary, Good for you to have a place where you can get away and take some pictures, deep breathes and find some peace..Your photos of the heron are wonderful.. I agree, these birdees are quick and very photo shy, but you seem to have gotten some lovely shots. Love the kingfisher and was that a red-wing blk bird? I, too would never give up any of our pets..and don't know how others do and have peace of mind to sleep at night!!

jason said...

You're like me when it comes to the great blue heron. The one here at the lake also scampers or flies away the moment I get close enough for a good photo, so I wind up chasing the poor thing all over the lake hoping to sneak up on it.

I adore the belted kingfisher shot. She's beautiful! Whether through the windshield or not, kingfishers like playing hard to get and you have to take the picture when you can.

I've been seeing the same news, Mary, about more and more animals winding up at shelters--or worse, being left behind in abandoned homes and yards--because people "can't afford them anymore." That's an excuse, I think, and a vile one at that. I will do without long before my animals will, and abandoning them or leaving them behind would never cross my mind as an option.

Julie Zickefoose said...

And the flip side of the coin--many of the people who died in Hurricane Katrina died because they wouldn't leave their pets behind in their flooding homes--an image that sticks with me, and has forced rethinking in rescue efforts--force people to leave the pet behind, and you may be condemning the human souls, too. I'm pretty sure I'd be on the roof with Chet Baker and Charlie, too, waving to you, Bella and Chloe. For every person who tosses a pet like a discarded tissue, there are many who would do anything to keep their pets.

Thank you for a thought-provoking post, beautiful heron and kingfisher photos, and those girls with the kisses on their foreheads.

KGMom said...

Mary--I can hear the heron saying--OH no, here she comes. . again!
And your pups with quizzical faces saying, OK what was that for?

A brief word on pets left at shelters--first, at least the former owners took them to shelters.
Second, assuming the owners really could NOT care for them--because of finances--cam you imagine how heart-breaking that would be. For all concerned? The people, the pets.
I am not in favor of leaving pets go, and could never do so myself, but I do have deep sympathy and concern for people in such dire straits. These are HARD times we are heading in to.

possumlady said...

Oh how I love your Licker sisters!

Soooo heartbreaking at the shelters. Luckily the one I volunteer at has had success with giving folks donated food and litter. (It's MUCH more cost-effective for the shelter to have the owners be able to keep their animals and supply them with food and litter) The shelter also has a VERY low cost medical facility attached that low-income folks can use.

If they STILL say they need to give up their animals, well then, they can't use the excuse that they can no longer afford them.

Sherri said...

Mary, I love this post. Would you have a problem if I used your pics as a photo reference for a painting? I would love to do a composite of a couple of those gorgeous heron shots.

Unknown said...

Mary you have captured these birds as God has intended us to see them.
The beauty and the simplicity are just awe inspiring.
I totally agree with your view and your stand on the dog and cat issues that are prevelent in this country. If more of us talk about this and give aid and support to all of our pet friends in this world then perhaps we will create a change.


Sometimes a rant just has to happen. Even necessary!

Those girls of yours look great with lipstick on their heads - wonder if my boys would mind? ;o)

The Quacks of Life said...

yeah its so sad that people dump dogs.

which is why I sponsor young shane.

a colleague has rescued a kitty that his son found dumped in a basket by the side of the road - some people are b@st@rds - apologies for language

Elaine Cougler Author said...

HI Mary
I think you've taken the right step--ignore the news as much as possible and concentrate on the beauty in the world instead. Your pictures are always inspiring and I click on 'Mary's View' when I want a dose of beauty.
I am not an animal person generally but agree with your assessment. Also my favorite picture in today's post is the last one with your girls around the pond. So great! Thanks for the uplift.

Donna said...

Oh Mary, you have brought a smile to my face. Dear sweet Bella and Chloe with kisses on their heads are so adorable! How cute! I too, cannot believe people who would give up their pets because of hard economic times...are they crazy?!

Your photos are fabulous!


Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Hi Mary! I couldn't agree more. I am sure that these people have some luxury that they could give up instead of their pets.
I love the lipstick kisses on Bella and Chloe. Lisa

Balisha said...

Hi Mary,
I have the screen minimized when reading some things on the computer, but when I come here I open it wide, because I know that I am going to be treated to wonderful photos. Thanks
Now this animal have so many comments today, because of your words. We all agree that our beloved pets are part of us. They are family...That's all I need to say.

Q said...

Dear Mary,
I am so happy to be home and catching up.
You have been busy!
These are the best Heron shots to date...I love the light!
People are so strange. I rarely understand.
Your girls will always have the good life!

Larry said...

Are you sure your not smoking? I thought I saw a couple of butts in the garden in that last photo!