The west’s version of kudzu — a noxious weed known as Dyer’s woad — is being sniffed out by specially trained dogs as part of a program in Montana aimed at eradicating the fast-spreading, yellow blooming, Russian-born member of the mustard family.
First found in Montana in 1934, the weed, native to southeast Russia, can grow four inches in a week, produce as many as 10,000 seeds, send its roots five feet underground and climb waist high, leaving little room for native plants.
That’s where the dogs come in.
Deb Tirmenstein and her dogs — a Labrador named Wibaux and a border collie called Seamus — joined Montana’s Dyer’s woad eradication project in 2011.
Wibaux, initially trained to find cadavers, and Seamus, who was rescued from a Bozeman shelter, now scramble up and down mountains sniffing out pockets of the weed. When they find some, they get a treat, and the weed gets sprayed with herbicides.
The project grew out of research conducted at Montana State University, acording to an article by the Montana State University News Service, published in the Helena Independent Record.
Montana Dyer’s Woad Cooperative Project started in 1984, and it has seen the weed’s presence drop from 17 counties down to seven – Beaverhead, Silver Bow, Carbon, Flathead, Gallatin, Missoula and Park.
The dogs are just the most recent tool in the battle.
Kim Goodwin, a research associate in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences in MSU’s College of Agriculture, started investigating the possibility of using dogs to detect noxious weeds when she was a master’s degree student at MSU.
Goodwin’s research showed that dogs and people complement each other when looking for noxious weeds. People can spot large flowering patches of the plants ; dogs can detect single plants, even before they start sprouting.
“Through our research, we found they are able to detect twice as many small plants as the surveyors do,” Goodwin said.
This year on Mount Sentinel in Missoula the dogs detected about 40 locations that humans missed, said Goodwin, whose original research used German shepherds and focused on knapweed.
Goodwin said she got the idea for using dogs to detect noxious weeds after reading about the ”Beagle Brigade,” which inspects luggage and boxes for the USDA at U.S. airports and ports of entry.
Trainers introduced Wibaux to Dyer’s woad by hiding the weed inside a box with holes in the lid and placing the box next to boxes containing other weeds.
When Wibaux realized she would receive a treat or get to retrieve a ball every time she detected Dyer’s woad, she started honing in on it.
(Photos of Wibaux and Seamus by Sepp Jannotta / MSU)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 15th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, border collie, control, Deb Tirmenstein, detection, dogs, dyers woad, eradication, idaho, kim goodwin, labrador, montana, montana state university, nature, noxious, pets, program, research, retriever, science, seamus, sniff, sniffing, weed, weeds, west, wibaux, woad
Webb shot and killed his neighbor’s black Labrador with a .357 magnum pistol in 1998, entered an Alford plea to charges of cruelty to animals and disorderly conduct and received two three-month sentences, both of which were deferred and later dismissed.
While the court case was sealed, it somehow became unsealed, got circulated on the Internet and was anonymously mailed earlier this week to The Billings Gazette.
“Fifteen years ago, I was attacked by a dog in my own front yard and I defended myself,” Webb, of Billings Heights, said Monday. “I have documentation, because I hired a private investigator at the time, that the dog had attacked a FedEx driver and UPS and the owner’s neighbor.”
Webb said he didn’t know who leaked the sealed documents. They initially appeared Sunday on a liberal political blog and on Twitter.
“I have no idea who is doing that. I have no idea,” said his opponent, Democrat Wanda Grinde.
According to The Billings Gazette, the documents state that Webb struck a neighbor’s black Lab with his pistol and then shot the the dog as it ran away. The bullet killed the dog and ricocheted into a second black Labrador.
Webb told the court that on the night of the incident, the two dogs charged down a hill toward him. He said he jumped in the bed of his pick-up truck until the dogs left. Then, he said, he went inside his house, got his pistol and headed up the hill to talk to their owner. He didn’t see the owner, though, and said the dogs confronted him again on his way home. He struck one of the dogs as it lunged at him and fired his gun.
The owner of the dogs, Lyla Mercer, said she heard the shot while she standing by their kennels, from which they had escaped.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 18th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 1998, animal, animals, black lab, candidate, court case, cruelty, dog, dogs, election, killed, labrador, leak, leaked, leaks, montana, pets, politics, roger webb, sealed, self defense, senate, shot
When Red’s hind legs went bad, Mike Mallory started using his.
Mallory — who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a car crash in 2001 and lives mostly on disability benefits he receives in Billings, Montana — learned last year his 5-year-old red heeler needed the anterior cruciate ligament in his left hind leg replaced.
Mallory was unable to afford the $3,000 surgery, but told a local veterinary hospital “I’ll figure something out.”
Dr. Ken Brown at the Animal Clinic of Billings agreed to give Red the operation he needed, and worry about the bill later.
Now, between Mallory’s fund-raising on the streets, and some friends who have helped him get donations over the Internet, enough money has been raised to pay the bill for fixing Red’s left hind leg.
Yesterday, though, Red was back at the vet to get the same procedure — on his right hind leg.
The surgery was performed in January, and the vet warned Mallory at the time that Red’s other hind leg would, sooner or later, need the same procedure.
Red reported to the vet’s office yesterday for that, and once again the clinic said it would do the surgery and worry about the payments later.
For most of the year Mallory has been carting Red around Billings in the wagon. “Walking for Red” is the name of a campaign he created to cover the surgery costs and raise awareness of pet emergencies.
Meanwhile, a Connecticut woman who learned of Mallory’s efforts has been helping him raise money via Facebook and other websites. “That man would walk across the world for his dog, and I really believe that,” Patty Daponte said.
As Mallory, who admits to having been a bit of a rambler and a loner, explains it, his dog, and the community’s response to his dog’s dilemma, have renewed his sagging faith and showed him there’s good in the world.
He says he was planning to move back home to Virginia and become a hermit living in the mountains, until Red came into his life.
“I’m a better man because of him,” said Mallory. “He’s the most loyal friend I have. He’s made me more caring, more loving and more respectful.”
He was surprised, too, by the support he has received since his dog encountered hard times: “There’s a lot of love in this world,” he said. “I’ve seen that, and I want to see more of it and spread more of it.”
Once Red recovers from his second surgery, Mallory plans to embark on a “walkabout” in which he and Red travel on foot to a yet-to-be-determined city out of the state to continue spreading awareness and raise money for people in similar situations, according to the Gazette.
When a reporter interviewed him earlier this week, Mallory was pulling Red in the bright yellow wagon while picking up trash from the streets.
He sees it as a way to repay the kindness people have shown him over the last few months.
“It’s just one of my ways of paying it forward,” he said. ”I can’t pay it back financially, so I do it this way.”
(Photo: James Woodcock / Billings Gazette)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 15th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: acl, animal clinic of billings, animals, anterior cruciate ligament, billings, brain injury, cost, disabled, dog, dogs, expense, fundraising, health, heeler, hind, internet, ken brown, leg, mike mallory, montana, patty daponte, pets, pulling, red, red heeler, surgery, veterinary, wagon
The heartwarming story of an injured stray dog taken in by students at a Catholic school on the Crow Reservation in Montana came to an abrupt end when someone drove onto school grounds and fired six shots at the dog.
Named Mission, the female Rottweiler mix — who’d been nursed back to health after limping onto the grounds of Pretty Eagle Catholic Academy in St. Xavier six years ago — was fatally wounded.
Students are still grieving her death, more than two months ago, according to the Billings Gazette.
“We’ve had dogs come and go, but never one that stuck around like she did,” said Garla Williamson, the principal at the private school for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. “She adopted us, and we adopted her.”
The shooting is being investigated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and a small reward is being offered by the school for information leading to an arrest.
Samantha Stoddard said she was watching television and heard through an open window at her campus residence what she heard shots, then heard Mission yelp in pain. She ran outside and saw a white sedan parked at a cattle guard near the entrance to the school property.
Two more shots were fired as she ran to the dog.
She found Mission collapsed on the ground and helped carry the dog to the porch of her residence.
“She was trying to die, and it was really painful,” she said. With the dog sufferering and no veterinarian, a staff member got a gun and put her down.
Several days passed while staff struggled with how to tell students what had happened.
Stoddard said Mission is buried near her residence, and the children have been making regular visits to the grave.
“It’s turned into a little shrine,” she said.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 25th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: academy, adopted, animals, bureau of indian affairs, catholic, crow, crow reservation, dog, dogs, grief, injured, investigation, mission, mix, montana, mourning, pets, pretty eagle, private, rescued, reservation, rottweiler, school, shooting, shot, shrine, st. xavier, stray, students, taken in
A Helena, Montana, man has been charged with animal cruelty after his dog was found to have a blood alcohol level four times the legal limit for humans driving motor vehicles.
Police responded to a call about an intoxicated dog at Smith’s Bar, where customers and staff were caring for the dog, a Pomeranian mix named Arly II.
According to police, the dog had trouble walking and standing.
Witnesses told police the dog had been given vodka in a car outside the bar.
Police took the dog to Alpine Animal Clinic, where veterinarian Dr. Michelle Richardson drew blood. Tests showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.348 percent. The legal limit for driving is 0.08 percent.
Arly II stayed at the animal hospital a few days and is now at the Lewis and Clark Humane Society pending the outcome of the criminal case, the Helena Independent Record reported.
Todd Harold Schrier, 49, was charged with animal cruelty and a felony drug charge related to the March 1 incident.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 23rd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alcohol, animal cruelty, animals, arly, arly II, arrest, blook alcohol, cruelty to animals, dog, dogs, drink, drunk, helena, intoxicated, level, montana, pets, poisoning, pomeranian, smiths bar, todd schrier, vodka
The dog, named Ole, was with Dave Gaillard, 44, of Bozeman, when he was buried by an avalanche while skiing with his wife, Kerry, on Saturday. Kerry, who hung onto a tree to avoid being swept away, survived.
Search and rescue personnel saw no sign of Ole at the site, and it was thought he had been buried in the slide, the Billings Gazette reported.
Apparently, though, he managed to dig his way out — no small feat for any dog, let alone a Corgi. After that, amid temperatures in the teens, the stubby-legged dog managed to find his way back to the motel, four miles away,
Officials said the dog arrived at the Alpine Motel in Cooke City and took a seat at the door of the room the Gaillard’s had occupied four days earlier.
The dog’s return provided a bright spot for the grieving family, according to Gallatin National Forest officials who investigated the incident.
Cooke City businessman Bill Whittle, who drove the dog back to his family on Wednesday, said Ole appeared to be in good condition.
When he first approached the dog, Whittle said, Ole was scared. But when he called his name, he came right over. Whittle was a member of the search and rescue crew that helped retrieve Gaillard’s body.
Gaillard’s death was the second avalanche related death in the area over the weekend.
“We needed this,” Whittle said of the dog’s survival. “It kind of cheered everyone up.”
(Photo: Gaillard’s daughter, with Ole and Whittle, Billings Gazette)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, avalanche, bozeman, corgi, dave gaillard, dead, deaths, dog, dogs, gallatin national forest, killed, montana, motel, ole, owner, pets, presumed, rescue, resurfaces, returns, reunion, search, welsh corgi
And, given it’s “National Pet Travel Safety Day” — yes, really — what better time to share that news.
Phil Nichols, 79, was heading back to Arizona from Helena, Montana, on Nov. 28 when he discovered his 6-year-old Lab mix, Buddy, was missing.
Buddy rode in the camper in the bed of Nichols’ pickup — and we won’t debate the safety of that practice here. He was in the camper, Nichols said, when he stopped for gas in Dillon. But on his next stop, Idaho Falls, he checked and found Buddy was gone.
Nichols drove 150 miles back to Dillon and spent a day and a half searching before heading, doglessly, back to Arizona.
In Pocatello, Idaho, Nichols, cut off by another car, hit a guardrail and rolled his vehicle. He wasn’t seriously injured, but the camper was crushed. Nichols wonders if Buddy somehow had a “sixth sense” about the accident and got out of the camper — though he doesn’t know how — before it was too late.
“I think the dog has more brains than I do,” said Nichols, who adopted Buddy from an animal shelter.
One month after Buddy’s disappearance, back in Montana, animal control officers got a call Thursday about a wounded stray dog in the Buxton area, about 10 miles southwest of Butte, according to the Billings Gazette.
Animal control officer Charlie Dick responded, spending 45 minutes coaxing the limping dog toward him with treats, before snagging him.
The dog was emaciated, had scratches on his face, and a wounded rear foot. In addition to freezing temperatures, and having to survive in the wild, Buddy had been shot with BB’s, X-rays by a veterinarian revealed.
“What a little survivor,” Dick said. ” He was out there a long time.”
Animal control was able to locate and contact Buddy’s owner through a lost dog ad on Craigslist, which had been posted by Nichols’ daughter in Helena.
Nichols said he plans to reunite with Buddy once the vet pronounces the dog ready to leave, but that he may call his dog before then.
“I just want them to put the phone to his ear and let him hear my voice,” Nichols said. “I think that would make him feel better.”
(Photo: Buddy and Nichols before they got separated)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 2nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, animal control, animals, arizona, buddy, butte, buxton, camper, crash, dillon, dog, dogs, emaciated, found, freezing, idaho springs, injured, lab, lost, mix, montana, month, national pet travel safety day, pets, phil nichols, reunion, reunite, shot, survival, survivor, travel, wilds
All of the dogs at Rolling Dog Farm are beloved.
But Blind Patti — it’s fair, if not gramatically correct to say — was beloveder than most.
The eyeless shepherd mix, one of the dogs featured in our “Travels with Ace” calendar, passed away Nov. 20.
“Our beautiful blind girl Patti died tonight, just a few minutes before 7 p.m. She passed away here at home peacefully, lying on a big soft fleece bed in the dog room, covered with a fleece blanket,” Rolling Dog’s Steve Smith reported from the sanctuary’s home in New Hampshire.
Patti came to Rolling Dog Farm — back when it was still in Montana — from Spokane Animal Control.
When she arrived in 2003, one of her eyes was missing, and the other was solid white. A scar ran across her forehead from one eye to the other, and suspicions were that she had been struck with either an ax, hatchet or shovel.
At the Spokane shelter, she’d been scheduled to be euthanized her second week there, but an employee felt sorry for her, checked her out of the facility the day before she was to be put down, and tried to find her a home.
Rolling Dog Farm (called Rolling Dog Ranch at the time) was contacted and agreed to take her in, and another rescue group agreed to transport the blind and battered dog to Ovando, Montana, where the sanctuary, until last year, was headquartered.
She was thin and had a ragged coat when she arrived in Montana, with one seemingly empty eye socket. When Rolling Dog Farm took her to their vet, the remnants of an eyeball were found in the open eye socket. They cleaned it out, and sewed the eye shut. The other eye, which she couldn’t see out of and which was clearly causing her pain, was removed.
After that, Patti blossomed, according to the profile of her on the Rolling Dog Farm website:
“Even though she can’t see, she still thinks of herself as a guard dog of sorts. She stands at the fence and barks if she thinks anything, or anyone, is out there and we ought to know about it. Now plump, her coat shines. (At 80 pounds, she’s on a diet!) She loves to ‘mix it up’ with Steve … woofing and wrestling and showing him just how tough she is.
“Her favorite activity is to climb on to Steve’s lap while he tries to read the paper. Not content to merely lay on his lap, Patti insists on rolling over upside down, feet up in the air, tummy ready to be scratched. And if she doesn’t get the attention Patti thinks she deserves, she begins squirming.”
I first met Patti when I visited the sanctuary in Montana in 2007, and I ran into her again when, during the year Ace and I traveled the country, we stopped in at Rolling Dog Farm’s new home in Lancaster, New Hampshire.
About a year after that, this past October, Smith noticed Patti wasn’t herself. A series of trips to veterinarians followed, and what was at first thought to be one cancerous mass turned out to be a rapidly increasing series of them. About four weeks ago, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer called hemangiosarcoma.
“She was one of our stars, a favorite of volunteers, employees, visitors and media over the years,” Steve, who runs the sanctuary with his wife, Alayne Marker, noted.
“Only four dogs have been with us as long as Patti — Widget, Goldie, Cedar and Libby. So she was a fixture not only of the sanctuary, but of our hearts as well.”
The day after she died, Steve, who I’d been exchanging emails with regarding making Rolling Dog Farm a beneficiary of sales of our “Travels with Ace” calendar, opened up a link I sent him to the calendar page.
The calendar documents some of the memorable moments from the year Ace and I spent traveling the U.S. — including our stop at Rolling Dog Farm. In addition to receiving 50 percent of profits from the sales, Rolling Dog Farm is featured one month, and among the photos I used — though I didn’t know of her condition — was one of Patti.
“… On that page you’ll see a photo of me with blind Patti that almost made me cry,” Steve recounts on the Rolling Dog Farm blog. “When John sent me the link, I clicked on it, the page opened … and there was the photo.”
The photo shows Steve and Patti, face to face, and I like to think it comes close to capturing the essence of what Patti, blind as she was, far more eloquently depicted than I ever could.
As Steve puts it:
“She showed us how animals are immensely capable of forgiving — if not forgetting — what people have done to them. “
Posted by jwoestendiek November 29th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2012, abused, animal control, animals, blind, blind patti, blinded, calendar, cancer, dead, deaf, died, disabled, dogs, eyeless, hatchet, lancaster, montana, new hampshire, ovando, patti, pets, photography, rolling dog farm, rolling dog ranch, sanctuary, shepherd mix, shovel, spokane, steve smith, travels with ace, travels with ace calendar
It’s not something the typical dog owners does, but with enough sheddings and some hard work you can make a shawl out of your shiba inu, a cowl out of your collie, a scarf out of your Schipperke, or even an afghan out of your Afghan.
Denise Rothwell of Great Falls, Montana, has turned the fur from her two Great Pyrenees — Bella and Windsor — into scarves and throw blankets, with a litle help from her mother.
Shirley Rothwell spins Bella and Windsor’s hair into yarn, and her daughter does the knitting. Denise got the idea from a book, and asked her mother to make the yarn.
“The fur is white and beautiful. Great Pyrenees are double coated, with a long top layer and a short downy under layer. It’s really quite pretty. I first made her a scarf and I am working on an afghan,” Shirley told the Great Falls Tribune.
Shirley, with Bella and Windsor at her side, demonstrated how to spin shed dog hair into yarn over the weekend at the Montana State Fair.
Denise combs her dogs on a regular basis and collects the hair in plastic bags. She turns it over to her mother, who washes it with Dawn dishwashing soap and places it in a lingerie bag to soak in 140 degree water.
Dawn, Shirley said, takes out that wet dog smell.
Shirley has started an afghan made up of the coats of all six of her Great Pyrenees her daughter has owned. Denise sees it as a way to preserve her memories of them.
“Some people keep ashes or other mementos for their pets, and this is my memento,” Denise said.
(Photo: Larry Beckner / Great Falls Tribune)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 1st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: afghans, animals, bella, denise rothwell, dog, dogs, fur, great falls, great pyrenees, hair, hobbies, knit, knitting, mementos, memory, montana, montana state fair, pets, pyrenees, scarf, scarves, shed, sheddings, shirley rothwell, spin, spinning, sweaters, windsor
Breed: Saint Bernard
Encountered: At a rest area in western Montana, just a couple of miles before the Idaho state line.
Backstory: Charlie, a female with a sweet disposition, was headed back home to Seattle from a road trip to Wisconsin. She lumbered out of the car to meet Ace, but Ace was more interested in the treats her owner — a former Baltimore resident — had in her pocket. Ace and Charlie stared at each other, sniffed, and munched some more treats together before doing their business and climbing back into their respective cars and rolling through Idaho.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 8th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, animals, charlie, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, encounter, encounters, idaho, montana, pets, rest area, road trip, roadside, roadside encounters, saint bernard, st. bernard, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace