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
After rattling off a farcical list of “problems” for which there is no cure — infantile baldness, bulimic insomnia, backwards baseball caps — comedian-actor Kevin Nealon makes it clear to viewers of this public service announcement that there is one we can do something about:
The senseless killing of thousands of adoptable animals each year in Los Angeles city shelters.
In this spot for No-Kill Los Angeles, Nealon brings a little humor to a serious situation. Using his deadpan style, accompanied by poignant piano music, he reels off a long list of “unsolveable” problems, then he makes his plea:
“There are a lot of problems out there,” Nealon says. “Here is one you can do something about — homeless pets. Go to NKLA.org to find out more about how you can help. Let’s make LA a no-kill city forever.”
NKLA is a campaign of Best Friends Animal Society and its goal is to end the killing of animals in Los Angeles shelters by 2017. About 17,000 animals die in city shelters every year.
NKLA billboards can be found across Los Angeles, featuring the larger-than life faces of dogs and cats, flanked by the initials NKLA, an acronym for “No Kill Los Angeles.”
Nealon spent nine years on the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” appeared in movies such as “Anger Management,” “Joe Dirt,” and the “Wedding Singer,” and is a regular on the Showtime series, “Weeds.”
The NKLA spot was produced by Let There Be Dragons, which is affiliated with the advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day.
iN aPRIL, Nealon, along with Oscar winner Hilary Swank and other celebrities, helped roll out the NKLA campaign, which includes a broad coalition of animal rescue groups and shelters led by Best Friends Animal Society, with support from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the LA City Council, and LA City Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette.
Members of the NKLA coalition include Found Animals Foundation, Kitten Rescue, Stray Cat Alliance, Downtown Dog Rescue, FixNation, Karma Rescue, and Best Friends.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 3rd, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, best friends, campaign, cats, deadpan, dogs, euthanasia, homeless, humor, kevin nealon, killing, los angeles, nkla, no kill los angeles, no-kill la, problems, psa, public service announcement, rescues, saturday night live, shelters, solving, video, weeds
For the last in our week-long series of kudzu dogs (are you questioning my sanity yet?) we start off with the artwork first (above), and the undoctored photo (below).
This one is definitely a Newfoundland.
Even without our tampering, this kudzu dog is a very obvious one, located near Hanes Park in Winston-Salem.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 21st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, attack of the giant kudzu dogs, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogs in kudzu, dogscountry, form, growth, images, imagination, kudzu, kudzu dog, kudzu dogs, north carolina, pets, photography, shapes, summer, travels with ace, vines, weeds, winston-salem
Kudzu dog No. 6 is obviously squatting, for what we’d have to guess is a quick No 2.
(Tomorrow: Our last kudzu dog, maybe, a kudzu Newfoundland)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 20th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, attack of the giant kudzu dogs, dog's country, dogs, dogs in kudzu, dogscountry, forms, kudzu, kudzu dog, kudzu dogs, landscape, north carolina, pets, photography, shapes, south, travels with ace, vine, weeds, winston-salem
Our fifth kudzu dog looks to me like a playful St. Bernard.
The trick to spotting kudzu dogs is to find a good patch and be willing to stare a long time, keeping an open mind until one pops out.
In addition to the growth pattern itself, other factors can affect whether you see a dog in the kudzu or not, including the angle you’re viewing from, the lighting, and how many beers you’ve had. It’s entirely possible to pass through an area at one time of day and see nothing in the kudzu, then return at another time, when the light has changed, to see many.
(Tomorrow: Pooping kudzu dog)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 19th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, attack of the giant kudzu dogs, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, growth, imagination, kudzu, kudzu art, kudzu dogs, landscape, north carolina, pets, photography, travels with ace, vines, weeds, winston-salem
Is he preparing to offer his paw for a handshake, or planning to jump up? This one seem poised for something.
I found him on the grounds of The Children’s Home in Winston Salem, which sports some impressive kudzu formations. This one was right behind the swimming pool.
So I chose the color of pool paint to make an outline around him.
(Tomorrow: Kudzu St. Bernard?)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 18th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, attack of the giant kudzu dogs, dog, dogs, dogs in kudzu, forms, imagination, kudzu, kudzu art, kudzu dogs, landscaping, north carolina, pets, photography, shapes, south, vine, weeds, winston-salem
I found this fellow resting not too far from the kudzu dog we featured yesterday, along the Silas Creek Trail.
He had the look of an Airedale to me — or at least he did until I trimmed him up.
(Tomorrow: A lurking kudzu dog, poised to pounce.)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, attack of the giant kudzu dogs, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, forms, imagination, kudzu, kudzu dogs, landscape, nature, north carolina, pets, photography, shapes, south, travels with ace, vines, weeds, winston-salem
Those of you who followed Ace and me in our year of traveling across America know that there came a time last summer that I developed a curious obsession — one that led me to risk life and limb, fritter away numerous hours and question what had become of my life.
Somewhere in Mississippi, I spotted a patch of kudzu, growing in the shape of a dog — and shared it with you, of course, in the hopes that you would see the dog, too.
After that, I began looking for more, casually at first, then with the kind of intensity that might be viewed as going overboard. I started driving too slowly, focusing more on the side of road than the road itself, backtracking and pulling onto the shoulder of highways that didn’t have shoulders. As semis shot by, rattling my car and body like fllimsy aluminum signage, I took pictures, trying to capture the dogs within the kudzu.
Yes, I was pursuing that all-important “whimsy” I wrote about yesterday, but at what cost? Was I merely filling time? Was I compensating for some lack in my life? Was I over-using my imagination? Was I avoiding life’s harsh realities? It might surprise you to learn that photographing kudzu dogs pays no salary and carries no health insurance, which, possibly, are the things I should have been pursuing, as opposed to kudzu shaped liked dogs.
Eventually, I got over it, with help from nature. As fall arrived, the kudzu leaves turned brown and dropped to the ground, leaving only skeletal vines lurking in the woods.
By then, the exercise had renewed my fantasy of opening up “The Kud-Zoo,” a roadside attraction I envisioned years earlier while traveling the south. The dream was to open it up in a huge, kudzu-filled lot somewhere near an Interstate. I, along with my staff, would groom the kudzu — assisting nature, not controlling it — training and trimming the fast-growing weed to grow into the shape of animals.
There, too, we would offer kudzu crafts for sale, and hold workshops on kudzu — both at The Kud-Zoo itself and through outreach programs, taking our Kudzu bus to make public presentations aimed at improving the image of the hated alien weed. Basically, we would embrace kudzu, which I think is what it is trying to do with us. We’d be all about peace and harmony, with a lemonade-out-of-lemons philosophy: If you can’t beat it, make things out of it and sell it. We’d be sort of like hippies, but obsessed with a different kind of weed.
Fortunately, that dreamed faded, as did my summer-long obsession with kudzu growing in the shape of dogs. But with this summer’s arrival, kudzu has renewed its quest for world dominance, and I have had a relapse.
Seeing animals in kudzu, like seeing forms in the clouds, is an entertaining pursuit. Maybe it is God’s way of amusing us. Kudzu animals are like God’s Chia pets, though God hasn’t capitalized as much as He could on merchandising them.
I found lots of them, or so I think. At times, I think seeing dogs in the kudzu is a psychiatric disorder; at other times, I think it may be a superpower — that only I can see them.
I’ll let you be the judge. For the next six days — yes, six days — I’ll be showing you kudzu dogs. We’ll feature an unadulterated photo of a kudzu dog, along with a highly and obviously adulterated one, to better allow you to see the dog I’m seeing.
We shall call these adulterated pictures “art,” so you won’t question whether the combination of taking the photos in the first place, then spending hours tweaking them, is actually a form of insanity.
I like to think that someday — when the world realizes that I, rather than being a wackjob, have a unique vision — my kudzu dog photographs will be worth a lot of money.
Unitil then I’ll be that weird guy on side of the highway, lurking in the park, taking pictures of big green clumps — because how can I not?
We’ll be showing you a pooping kudzu dog, a playfully jumping up kudzu dog, and several kudzu dogs in repose. Because repose is a good place to be.
While you are enjoying kudzu dogs, Ace and I will be enjoying the beach — the same one we visited last year.
We are not planning on blogging — similarly, at its core, an obsession — during our time at the beach, unless of course we stumble across something too amazing to pass up.
So without further ado, we kick off our weeklong series: “Attack of the Giant Kudzu Dogs,” starting with this one we spotted along Silas Creek Trail in Winston-Salem.
The photo at the top of this post — go ahead, scroll back up for another look, I’ll wait — is unretouched.
Below is the same photo, doctored, or dog-tored as the case may be, through a very basic computer program called “Paint.”
As I see it, it’s comparable to the sculptor who sees an object in wood, marble, Play-Doh, or whatever, and then removes those parts necessary for you to see it, too. I, much like Rodin, or a first grader, am simply bringing out the form that was already there.
It was already there, wasn’t it?
(Tomorrow: Resting kudzu dog)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 15th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, attack of the giant kudzu dogs, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogs in kudzu, dogscountry, form, imagination, kudzu, kudzu dogs, landscape, pets, photography, shapes, south, travel, travels with ace, vines, weeds
This utility pole — in Kinston, North Carolina, about 90 minutes east of Raleigh — has been attracting attention in the last week from people who see in it a strong resemblance to Jesus on the cross.
And who are we to argue — especially with our addiction to kudzu dogs?
Kent Hardison, who goes by the pole every day on his way to work at Ma’s Hotdog House, told the Free Press of Kinston that he considered spraying weed killer on it when he first saw it, but then thought better of it.
“I glanced at it, and it looks like Jesus,” Hardison said. “I thought, ‘You can’t spray Jesus with Roundup.’”
Hardison said some of his customers think the vine might be an indication that God is watching over the region — and he thinks that’s possible. As he noted, there are some similarities between kudzu and Jesus.
“It doesn’t matter what you do, it is going to be around,” he said. “Ain’t that a lot like Jesus?”
And, as one news report pointed out, The Gospel of John quotes Jesus as saying “I am the true vine.”
Based on our vast experience, and being — while a disciple of dog — an afficianado of kudzu, I can tell you that Kudzu Jesus isn’t kudzu, despite what’s being reported by news media around the world.
At the time, spending hours seeking out and photographing kudzu growing in the shape of dogs, I questioned what had become of my life — how a prize-winning journalist had been reduced to pursuing such a trivial diversion. But now it all pays off, as I can warn the world of a false prophet.
Kudzu Jesus is actually Trumpet Vine Jesus.
To its credit, The Free Press, which broke the story of Kudzu Jesus, corrected itself today, reporting that “multiple sources” have confirmed “that the Christ-like vine on a pole about one mile south of Kinston on U.S. 258 South, is actually Trumpet Vine — a wild vine native to Southeastern U.S.”
Both a local historian and an agriculture extension agent told the newspaper that trumpet vine — named for its trumpet-shaped flowers — is what’s growing up the pole.
Don’t be fooled by Trumpet Vine Jesus; wait until the real kudzu saviour comes along — and I’m sure, in time, he will.
(Top photo: Charles Buchanan / Daily Free Press)
(Bottom photo: John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 30th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: christ, cross, crucifixion, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, growing, image, imagination, jesus, jesus christ, kinston, kudzu, kudzu dogs, kudzu jesus, mistake, news media, north carolina, religion, saviour, shape, south, travels with ace, trumpet vine, utility pole, vine, vines, weed, weeds
Remember that kudzu dog I showed you a few weeks back?
The one I encountered in Alabama?
Maybe it was just the power of suggestion — that after seeing that first one, it made me tend to see more, whether they were there or not. Perhaps one sees in kudzu what they want to see, or perhaps I’ve been writing about dogs too long. I became a little obsessed with kudzu dogs, making u-turns to go back for a second look, pulling off on the narrow shoulders of highways to take pictures as big trucks rumbled by and made the car shake.
It led to some reflection — some self-questioning, at which I am a master. I’d hate to die while taking pictures of kudzu dogs. It’s not exactly a noble cause. Maybe, it made me think, it’s time to get a real job.
I thought: Here I am, a 56 — soon to be 57 — year-old man, spending his day looking for kudzu dogs, as opposed to, say, being assistant vice president of somethingoranother. Have I traveled too far down Whimsy Road? Is it time to drop the gypsy thing and get serious and responsible — get a job and home, settle down and shut the heck up? It was one of those look in the (rearview) mirror moments.
But when I looked in the mirror I saw — in addition to me, and that I needed to shave, and Ace — a clump of kudzu back down the road a piece that looked exactly like Snoopy.
So I got back on the highway, made two more u-turns and took some more pictures as big trucks rumbled by.
Then I proceeded north, still questioning myself – and still seeing dogs in the kudzu:
Stop looking for dogs in kudzu, I told myself. I couldn’t do it. I wondered if it might be a disorder of some sort, or perhaps a sign that, whimsical though it is, I should pursue my plans to establish the Kud-Zoo.
Maybe it’s just because I’m a dog writer that I’m seeing dogs in the kudzu. Elephant or giraffe writers might look at the same clump and see elephants or giraffes i the kudzu. But they sure look like dogs to me. This one (left), for instance, is clearly a kudzu poodle. See his little paws? He appears to be licking them, or maybe trying to remove a burr.
I don’t want to spend the rest of my like looking for dogs in kudzu, but I fear — to some extent — I will. Maybe it’s not an entirely bad thing.
There are worse compulsions.
And it’s not like I’m doctoring any photographs. All of the above are “unretouched,” as they say. Nothing has been manipulated. That would be wrong, and, given my photoshopping skills, detectable.
And it would make my situation only more pitiful yet — that of a man spending half his life looking for dogs in kudzu, half of it taking photos of them, and half of it retouching those photos so they look even more like dogs.
And that just wouldn’t add up to much of a life at all.
(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America.)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 27th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace does america, animals, compulsion, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, humor, john woestendiek, kudzu, kudzu dogs, life, obsession, ohmidog!, pets, photography, photos, plants, preoccupation, road trip, self-questioning, topiary, travel, traveling with dogs, unretouched, vine, weeds