Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

82° F today?  Summer weather is here, folks – so it’s time to get outdoors and get moving.

With the warm-up upon us, pet owners will be taking advantage of the season to go camping, hiking, swimming, and playing in the backyard with their dogs.  But they’re not the only ones out in force — wild animals will be enjoying the weather, too.  The problem is, wildlife can leave behind a bacterium called Leptospirosis, which infects both people and their pets.

This raccoon may be carrying Leptospirosis - a bacteria dangerous to people and pets.

This raccoon may be carrying Leptospirosis – a bacteria dangerous to people and pets.

LEPTOSPIROSIS PROFILE

Found in:  Water, soil, mud, and food contaminated with animal urine.  Flood water is especially hazardous.  Also found in an infected animal’s tissues and bodily fluids such as blood and urine.

Host animals:  Raccoons, squirrels, opossums, deer, skunks, rodents, livestock, dogs, and rarely in cats.

Points of entry:  Cut or scratch on the skin; mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, mouth; inhaling aerosolized fluids.  Drinking contaminated water; exposure to flood water.

Symptoms in people:  Fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, jaundice, vomiting, rash, anemia, meningitis.  Some people show no symptoms.

Symptoms in pets:  Fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weakness, depression, stiffness, muscle pain.  Some pets show no symptoms.  The disease can be fatal in pets.

When will it show up in my pet:  Between 5-14 days post-exposure, although in some cases it may take up to 30 days.

Gravity:  In people, Lepto infection can lead to kidney and liver failure, and death if left untreated.

Who is at risk:  Campers, water sportsmen, farmers, military, to name a few.

Prevention

  • Vaccinate dogs annually for Leptospirosis
  • Don’t allow dogs to drink from puddles, streams, lakes, or other water that may be contaminated by animal urine
  • Don’t swim in water that may be contaminated by animal urine
  • Wear shoes when outdoors
  • Keep dogs out of children’s play areas
  • Control rodents around your home and yard

Resources: 

http://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/index.html  Visit the CDC website for comprehensive information on Leptospirosis in people and pets.

http://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/pdf/fact-sheet.pdf  Print your own Lepto fact sheet, or send us a message using the contact form, and we’ll print one for you.

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This article originally posted on July 8, 2011.

Photo credit: D. Gordon E. Robertson, via Wikimedia Commons.

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I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

LSLP 1

LSLP 2

 

P1070077

 

LSLP 4

 

LSLP 5

 

LSLP 6

 

LSLP 7

 

LSLP 8

 

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All photos by Jennifer Miele, at Lone Star Lakes Park in Suffolk.

P.S. I see a swan in the clouds in the first picture. Do you?

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Happy for the cozy temperatures and blue skies we’ve been blessed with the past two weekends, I took the opportunity to twice visit one of my favorite free parks in Virginia — Windsor Castle Park in Smithfield; and I got to know an area that’s new to me — the Mariners’ Museum Park  in Newport News.

I began two Saturdays ago by visiting Windsor Castle Park, just a short drive down the highway from a farm in Suffolk where I take weekend horseback riding lessons. I’ve learned that one of the best things I can do for myself after riding is to go for a nice long walk, to ward off next-day muscle soreness.

Keeper, my lesson horse at Indian Point Farm. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

Keeper, my lesson horse at Indian Point Farm. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

At the park, I kept an eye out for wildlife slightly more exotic than the ubiquitous squirrels. To my delight, I caught sight of a nutria swimming around in the marsh. 

Water rat

He’s larger than he looks! Photo by Jen Miele.

Also spotted, but not photographed: hawks, turkey vultures, and fiddler crabs. I did get a kick out of two squirrels playing a game of tag. The game ended abruptly when Squirrel A jumped up on a bridge, saw me standing there, then turned around and high-tailed it up a tree. Squirrel B (the chaser) had already spotted me and took off in the opposite direction.

The real wildlife worth watching that day were the slightly buzzed folks returning from the Annual Smithfield Wine and Brew Fest held at the park. After chatting up some friendly locals, I turned my attention back to the marshes.

P1060808 (2)

Windsor Castle Park. Photo by Jen Miele.

Windsor Castle Park. Photo by Jen Miele.

Windsor Castle Park. Photo by Jen Miele.

The next day, I toured the “Working South” exhibit at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center, then set out on the nearby Noland Trail at Mariners’ Museum Park, having forgotten my water bottle, not dressed for hiking, and not realizing the trail is 5 miles long. But I did bring my camera.

Dogwood blossom, Mariners' Museum Park, Newport News, VA. Photo by Jen Miele.

Dogwood blossom, Mariners’ Museum Park, Newport News, VA. Photo by Jen Miele.

Lake Maury. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

Lake Maury. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

Long-leggedy beastie sneaking around the pool. Photo by Jen Miele.

Long-leggedy beastie sneaking around the pool. Photo by Jen Miele.

Hungry turtle. Photo by Jen Miele.

Hungry turtle. Photo by Jen Miele.

This past Saturday, I returned to Windsor Castle Park and cleaned up on the animal sightings. There was yet another (or possibly the same) nutria, for starters.

My camera battery was giving up the ghost, so here is a list of animals I saw and did not photograph: a red-winged blackbird, a goose, turkey vultures, cormorants, cardinals, a skink, turtles, little fish that stay underwater and larger, splashy ones that breach the surface whenever I look the other way.

Sunlight sparkles on the surface of Cypress Creek. Photo by Jen Miele.

Sunlight sparkles on the surface of Cypress Creek. Photo by Jen Miele.

I did capture this heron standing by the shore:

Egret on Cypress Creek. Photo by Jen Miele.

Egret on Cypress Creek. Photo by Jen Miele.

Continuing down the path, I enjoyed the view.

Natural beauty. Photo by Jen Miele.

Natural beauty. Photo by Jen Miele.

Cypress Creek at Windsor Castle Park. Photo by Jen Miele,

Cypress Creek at Windsor Castle Park. Photo by Jen Miele,

Finally — and the absolute highlight of my day — I met the Princess of Windsor Castle Park:

Trail buddy. Photo by Jen Miele.

Trail buddy. Photo by Jen Miele.

Far from being bad luck, Princess was the perfect traveling companion. Though strangers at first, we snuggled on a bench at the end of a pier and admired the view, including the egret pictured earlier. A vulture circled above, then swooped down low to get a better look at us. Just as I was pondering the absence of cormorants in the park, one of the jet-black birds flew overhead.

Adding to the drama, a slate-grey military ‘copter hacked its way through the air over us, using Cypress Creek as its flight path. (Cue “Paint it, Black” by the Rolling Stones.) I waved to the occupants of the helicopter, and I like to think they smiled and waved back at the girl sitting on a bench over the water, cuddling a black cat.

Finally, I’d like to share yet another tree-hugger photo, proving once again that the most dedicated tree-huggers in the world actually live in the forest:

Is this how trees reproduce? Photo by Jen Miele.

Is this how trees reproduce? Photo by Jen Miele.

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Today I’m taking a break from posting articles laced with medical jargon, in favor of sharing a few photos from my latest efforts at geocaching.

My sister (Alexandra) and I (Jennifer) hunted for caches in Windsor Castle Park, in Smithfield, a couple of weekends ago. Though we found only 2 out of the 5 caches we were hunting, we lucked onto some forest-dwellers by happy accident.

First, Alex nearly got a face full of this corn spider‘s web:

Writing spider at Windsor Castle Park, Smithfield, VA. Photo by Jennifer Miele

The corn spider is also known as a black and yellow garden spider, writing spider, sewing machine spider and argiope. It has many aliases.

Later, this black snake darted across the path in front of us and posed for a photo (a little fuzzy due to the zoom feature.) He was a beauty.

Black snake in Windsor Castle Park, Smithfield. Photo by Jennifer Miele

This past weekend, we hunted geocaches in Newport News, starting at Lee Hall, moving on to Endview Plantation, and finally, a utility easement next to Newport News City Park

Lee Hall did not offer up its animalian inhabitants, but we did find a spooky old train depot.

Lee Hall Train Depot. Photo by Jennifer Miele

Window detail. Lee Hall Train Depot. Photo by Jennifer Miele

At Endview, I found another corn spider blowing in the breeze. Actually, it was raining, and we both got soaked.

Corn spider at Endview Plantation. Photo by Jennifer Miele

Near the city park, Alex and I spent over an hour thrashing through the woods, tearing ourselves up on pricker vines and giving piggyback rides to hitchhiking Lone Star ticks.

At one point, I spied a blaze orange object in the distance. Assuming it had to be the cache, buried deep in the woods where only the most intrepid seekers would dare venture, I made a beeline for the mystery object. This is what I found:

Bright orange fungus amongus, near Newport News City Park. Photo by Jennifer Miele

Let’s get a little closer. Photo by Jennifer Miele

Detail of orange fungus. Photo by Jennifer Miele

That is my absolute favorite fungus of all time, and I didn’t even know I possessed such a list. But, really, it starts here. Another of my fave fungi:

I call it the “classic” mushroom. Near Newport News City Park. Photo by Jennifer Miele

This also looks like a fun guy:

Photo of Jeremy Renner by Sgt. Michael Connors.

Finally, we realized that the cache was not where we were searching, and no amount of praying would magically transport it to our location. So we switched to the forest on the opposite side of the path. And Alex found it:

Success! Photo by Jennifer Miele

She also found this heart-shaped mushroom on the way in:

A Valentine for wood nymphs? Photo by Jennifer Miele

If you’re wondering what the “average” geocache looks like, there is no average. The can be small (aka “micro”) like this guy:

Micro cache. Photo by Jennifer Miele

 …or larger, like the ammo can shown in the “Success!” photo above, and any size in-between.

Curious? Grab a GPS device and and a smartphone, and beef up your next hike. Register for free at www.geocaching.com.

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     For our Hill’s Prescription Diet customers: we have a new supply of free measuring cups (for dry food) and can caps. Ask for either one on your next visit to pick up your pet’s food.

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     Mr. Christopher Page stopped by the clinic today to introduce himself and his business, Fibrenew. Fibrenew experts repair and restore leather, plastic and vinyl. If your pet has torn holes in your favorite leather sofa, call 757-905-0873 and ask Chris what he can do for you.

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     I had the pleasure of spending Easter Sunday afternoon strolling through First Landing State Park, on what I call an “animal scavenger hunt.” There are certain animals I always expect to see when I go there, and my efforts were rewarded with the sight of skinks, woodpeckers, snails, butterflies, dragonflies, a myriad of nature-loving dogs, and one sneaky snake.

     Exiting the park (which is sporting a new trail center and bathrooms that are mercifully bug-free), I noticed this sign indicating how to distinguish between venomous and non-venomous snakes.

     Here’s my favorite part of the sign – and evidence that proofreading is a lost art form:

     That’s right, folks:  Keep Clam and Carry On. Enjoy your week!  ~~  Jen

 

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     Now that summer vacation is in full swing, pet owners will be taking advantage of the season to go camping, hiking, swimming, and playing in the backyard with their dogs.  But they’re not the only ones out in force — wild animals are enjoying the weather, too.  The problem is, wildlife can leave behind a bacterium called Leptospirosis, which infects both people and their pets.

LEPTOSPIROSIS PROFILE

Found in:  Water, soil, mud, and food contaminated with animal urine.  Floodwater is especially hazardous.  Also found in an infected animal’s tissues and bodily fluids such as blood and urine.

Host animals:  Raccoons, squirrels, opossums, deer, skunks, rodents, livestock, dogs, and rarely in cats.

Points of entry:  Cut or scratch on the skin; mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, mouth; inhaling aerosolized fluids.  Drinking contaminated water; exposure to floodwater.

Symptoms in people:  Fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, jaundice, vomiting, rash, anemia, meningitis.  Some people show no symptoms.

Symptoms in pets:  Fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weakness, depression, stiffness, muscle pain.  Some pets show no symptoms.  The disease can be fatal in pets.

When will it show up in my pet:  Between 5-14 days post-exposure, although in some cases it may take up to 30 days.

Gravity:  In people, Lepto infection can lead to kidney and liver failure, and death if left untreated.

Who is at risk:  Campers, water sportsmen, farmers, military, to name a few.

Prevention

  • Vaccinate dogs annually for Leptospirosis
  • Don’t allow dogs to drink from puddles, streams, lakes, or other water that may be contaminated by animal urine
  • Don’t swim in water that may be contaminated by animal urine
  • Wear shoes when outdoors
  • Keep dogs out of children’s play areas
  • Control rodents around your home and yard

Resources: 

http://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/index.html  Visit the CDC website for comprehensive information on Leptospirosis in people and pets.

http://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/pdf/fact-sheet.pdf  Print your own Lepto fact sheet, or send us a message using the contact form, and we’ll print one for you.

http://www.doh.wa.gov/notify/nc/leptospirosis.htm  Further reading from the Washington State Department of Health.

 

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The Monster Under the Bridge, waiting to be discovered.

     Confession time: I don’t own a dog.
I have plenty of cats, a bird, and a fish, but no dog. So I don’t really know what it’s like to go hiking through a park with a canine companion.
I have seen others do it, so I know the experience runs the gamut from strolling with a pet that seems unaware of any other park visitors, all the way to having one’s arm yanked out of the socket as the dog tries to chase every person, pet, and butterfly it sees.
I’ve often thought it would be nice if state parks featured dog rentals, so that folks like me could have a little company on the trail while the lucky pooches get some exercise and meet new people. Controversial? You decide.

If you’re lucky enough to own a dog and you enjoy walking your dog through the local parks, but the trails always feel the same to you, it may be time to take a closer look and discover the secrets you’ve been strolling past all these years.
It’s time to discover geocaching.

Go to Geocaching.com and register for a free account (go ahead and pay for a premium version if you’d like.)

The cutest cache ever!

Type in the zip code of the park you’ll be visiting and search for caches hidden there.
Load the coordinates into your handheld GPS unit (I use a Garmin Nuvi 200) and head out in search of your treasure.
Be sure to bring some dollar-store toys along to exchange with an item from the cache. I use Happy Rocks, bought on a trip to Shenandoah last summer, and Happy Magnets that I made using round magnets and happy face stickers.
When you find the cache, sign the log and update the website so others will know of your success.

You may be wondering if your dog will be any help – any help at all – in locating the caches. Well…it’s doubtful, unless the cache contains a T-bone steak (unlikely.)
The point is, you’re out having fun, exercising with your dog and seeing the park in a whole new way.  Enjoy!

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My sister (aka The Lady Contractor) and I team up to look for caches, and we’ve had success at Waller Mill Park in Williamsburg and Windsor Castle Park in Smithfield.

Can't find it on the ground? Try looking up.

Also look for caches hidden in First Landing State Park, York River State Park, and Chippokes Plantation.  Happy hunting!       ~~  Jen

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