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
This one’s a lot like the story we told you last this week — about a German shepherd in Baltimore named Jerry Lee — but in our view it’s the sort of thing that can’t happen often enough.
Bear, a two-year-old Labrador retriever mix who months ago was just another mutt in a Kentucky animal shelter, is the newest addition to the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama.
Dustain Vance, head trainer for Advance Canine Academy in Scottsville, Ky., adopted Bear from the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society. Bear had been adopted earlier, but returned by a family who had difficulty controlling the dog’s energetic behavior.
“For a drug dog, that’s what we actually look for,” Sheriff Ted Sexton, who swore in Bear as a deputy Wednesday, told Al.com. “We’re looking for a dog that has drives and instincts primarily in play and prey and hunt, and he excels in this particular area.”
The Sheriff’s Office purchased the dog from the training center, and he’s been assigned to a partner, a deputy attached to the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force.
Bear has been trained to sniff out marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
Last week, Bear and his new handler returned from training to Tuscaloosa, where the dog immediately found a pound of marijuana in a FedEx package. He has since made another bust.
Deputy Nick Lolley said he and Bear are getting along well in their first week on the job. “He has to trust you and you have to trust him,” Lolley said. “That’s — I say 50 percent of it, because if a dog trusts you, then he’ll work for you.”
(Photo: Chris Pow / al.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: academy, adopted, advance canine academy, alabama, animals, bear, bowling green, canine, county, department, detection, dog, dogs, drug, drug-sniffing, humane society, k9, kentucky, labrador retriever, mix, narcotics, pets, shelter, sheriff, task force, training, tuscaloosa, warren county, west
Here’s my theory: The more ghost signs a town has, the more ghosts it probably has, too.
Butte, Montana, it should come as no surprise, has plenty. Of both.
Here are some of the ones that, during just 30 minutes of driving around town one day this week, we came across – touting cigars, beer and hotels that have all been long outlived by their hand-painted advertisements.
Flor de Baltimore was a cigar brand that appears to go back at least a century or so. I’m not sure if its named after Lord Baltimore, the founder of Maryland, or the city. I’m guessing Flor means flower, which isn’t the first thing that Baltimore brings to my mind, but maybe the imagery the city evoked was different back then.
Most of the signs are for hotels — long since gone, but luxurious in their day, and even fireproof, which was a good thing considering all the mining executives who were probably lighting up Flor de Baltimores in their beds.
Now, only about a third as many people live here. Mining, though it still goes on, is nowhere near what it once was. You can’t find a good whorehouse when you need one (and they say the defunct one is haunted). And nobody’s drinking Butte Special Beer. It was brewed by a company that, more than 100 years old, closed in 1963.
There’s a big difference between what was in Butte and what is in Butte. Some look at Butte and see a depressing town; some see a fight-hardened survivor, a town that’s testament to man’s resiliency. Some see only its rough edges; some see its rich and colorful history, faded over time.
The New Tait hotel is not only not new anymore; it’s non-existent, but the old sign remains, as does the building, since converted into apartments.
Butte is the hometown of Evel Knievel. One of its tops tourist draws is a huge mine pit, part of a Superfund site that encompasses the historic district as well. If towns can be eccentric, Butte is — and quite proudly so.
But it’s also haunting — a place where the sun and clouds cast shadows that crawl, tarantula like, up and down its high hills; where mining has left poisons lurking, zombie like, beneath the surface.
Today, Butte is equal parts defunct and funky; gritty and, if you look hard, graceful. The ghost signs bring back memories of the freewheeling greatness that was; but they also are reminders to Butte that, in some ways, it’s a has-been.
But has-beens — and I know some, personally – seem to love regressing to the glory days, recalling better times. When the present’s not so great, the past seems more worth revisiting.
The trick is to not get stuck there — to appreciate what was, but keep looking at what could be … all, of course, while not forgetting to appreciate what is.
Before it fades away.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 3rd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advertisements, advertising, america, animals, beer, butte, cigars, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, environment, fading, flor de baltimore, ghost, ghost signs, hand painted, history, hotels, legacy, memories, mining, montana, nostalgia, painting, pets, road trip, signs, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, west
Ace, while enjoying the wide-open West, seems less than pleased with one of its characteristics. He — and I could be wrongly reading his mind now — is tired of the blistering hot pavement and the pebbles, large and small, that most folks around here opt for when landscaping.
He was longing last night — again I’m mind reading — for a soft green carpet to do his business, which is what led me to approach my Motel 6 neighbors two doors down after seeing they had a dog. They appeared to have been there for a while, based on the clutter in their room, so I figured they knew the ropes.
Ace and I were headed out for a walk, when I spotted them. Not wanting to alarm them or trigger a bad reaction in their dog, I shouted my question from a distance.
“Do you know where I could find some grass around here?”
“Do you know where I could find some grass around here?”
The second time I said it, the double meaning dawned on me. Fortunately, no police cars were passing by, though, who knows, the moment could have been captured for posterity by a security camera. Big Brother is pretty much everywhere these days — from Motel 6 to your more classy joints, like Howard Johnson’s.
Fortunately, too, my motel neighbor took my question with the intended meaning and pointed us down the road, past four more motels, to the Cracker Barrel.
“Cracker Barrel’s got some good grass,” she said.
She was right. Ace sniffed it for 30 minutes, watered it three times, and gently dropped a load (subsequently scooped) upon it. By then, I was ready to get back to the room, but he lay down in it, knowing it would be more hot pavement and pebbles on the way back.
I gave him a couple more minutes, for he was right, as dogs usually are when they make us slow down. There was no hurry. We lingered a bit, inhaled a few more times.
It was good stuff.
(To read all of “Dog’s Country,” from the beginning, click here.)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, animals, arid, arizona, climate, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, dry, flagstaff, grass, hot, landscaping, ohmidog!, pavement, pebbles, pets, poop, road trip, scoring some grass, terrain, travel, traveling with dogs, waste, west
Dogs are “unclean” and should not be kept as pets, a senior Iranian cleric has decreed.
Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi issued the fatwa, or religious ruling, to send a message that the trend toward “western-style” pet ownership must stop, Reuters reported.
Dogs are considered “unclean” under Islam and have traditionally not been kept as pets — although there are signs that is changing.
“Friendship with dogs is a blind imitation of the West,” the cleric was quoted as saying in Javan daily. “There are lots of people in the West who love their dogs more than their wives and children.”
Guard dogs and sheep dogs are considered acceptable under Islamic law but Iranians who carry dogs in their cars or take them to public parks can be stopped by police and fined.
The Koran does not explicitly prohibit contact with dogs, Shirazi said, but Islamic tradition showed it to be so. “We have lots of narrations in Islam that say dogs are unclean.”
Posted by jwoestendiek June 21st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cleric, decree, dogs, fatwa, grand ayatollah, iran, iranian, iranians, islam, islamic, naser makarem shirazi, news, ownership, pet, pets, religion, trend, unclean, west, western
One side benefit of my new gypsy lifestyle — in which the dog and I have given up our housing to spend some time exploring America — is that I am now a bronzed God.
Not all of me, mind you, just my left arm, which has been resting out the open car window as we make our way west.
I like driving with the window down. Ace, being wiser, prefers the air conditioning. So we compromise: window down, AC on, and the vents aimed in his direction — until, at least, it gets so hot that I come around to his point of view.
As a result of all that arm resting out the window, though, my left arm has a tan to die for — not a farmer tan, more of a truck driver tan.
With my pasty stay at home days behind me, the open road ahead, I’m digging my left arm, which may be making the rest of my body jealous. I think my left arm is almost ready to go out in public, perhaps check out the dating scene, maybe start hitting the gym, so it can be as toned as it is tanned.
The rest of me will probably stay home — oh yeah, we don’t have one, make that inside — but my left arm, I think, wants to go out and hoist a few.
Of course, all this leaves me uneven, a split personality, dermatologically speaking — and it will continue to get more pronounced unless I spend some time on the passenger side, which, as I’m traveling only with my dog, is probably not advisable.
I’ll just have to cope with being a two-toned human being, and let the two sides fight it out.
John’s left arm: Dude, c’mon, let’s go out.
Pasty John: No, I want to watch this Law & Order I’ve previously viewed five times.
John’s left arm: C’mon, let’s go climb a mountain or do some river rafting. How about we at least check out the motel pool?
Pasty John: No! Might I remind you that, despite your extremely awesome tan, you are the weaker of the two arms. You’re not in charge here. Now quit flexing.
John’s left arm: Can I at least work the remote?
Pasty John: No, I don’t trust you.
The contrast between my arms is only likely to get worse in the days ahead. We still have to cross the rest of New Mexico and half of Arizona, where I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if my left arm is required to show proof of citizenship.
“Are you two together?” the Border Patrol agent will ask.
“Never seen him before in my life,” my pasty side will answer.
(To read all of “Dog’s Country,” click here.)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 18th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace does america, air conditioning, animals, arms, dog, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, driving, left arm, my left arm, ohmidog!, one-sided, pets, right arm, road trip, sun, tan, tanning, travel, truck driver tan, trucker tan, uneven, west