Thoughts On The Out-Of-Doors: A Boy And A Dog

Owen Johnson, 7, Oak share a moment of mutual admiration. (Photo by Ginny Moore)

Kids, boys and girls, should have a dog provided they live in a setting where it is appropriate. Taking care of a dog can inculcate responsibility and helps establish a bond between the dog and the kid.

One can converse with a dog and it will understand when no one else can. You can tell it your secrets and it will keep them. When you are sad petting a dog can make you feel better.

I had to share the photo of Owen Johnson conversing with Oak. Look at the expressions of the boy and the dog and I think you will agree the photo is priceless.

I have had dogs nearly all my life. Teddy, a cocker spaniel, was my first. My parents got him a few weeks before I was born and there is a photo of Dad and Teddy on the lawn of the old Cottage Hospital waiting for me to be born on June 20, 1946.

I am the oldest of five siblings and there was no question Teddy was my dog as we had three years to establish a relationship before my sister was born. Teddy went everywhere with me around the farm and through the woods, he was my constant companion.

He died the afternoon of the first day of my eighth grade. He was deaf and had crawled under the car on that hot day. When we left to get Dad after work he was run over.

Mom was traumatized by his death. She loved him as much as I and my siblings did. It was as though she had lost a child.

Teddy was followed by other family dogs and, soon after Linda and I were married, we got our own dog, a St. Bernard named Paddles who was raised on the St. Johnsbury Academy campus as we lived in Tinker House and I was a dorm proctor at Brantview where we stayed when on duty.

When Paddles was a pup the kids spoiled her and she became their mascot. Many a night at bed check I would find her snuggled in bed with one of the boys who would reluctantly give her up. I would stand in the door of a darkened room and call her name, then watch the movement under the bed as she wiggled.

We moved back to Bradford in 1973 and Paddles came with us to live in the woods. It was a shock to her to go from having so many playmates to living in the woods with no one but Linda and me.

We have had a total of six St.Bernards and two Newfoundlands over the years. Unfortunately, most big breeds don’t have long lives. We have loved each of them and have cried when they died.

Oak, our latest, is three and he loves kids. Despite being 175 pounds he can be very gentle with little ones. He spends a lot of time in my truck and Linda’s car, usually hanging out the window. He gives you that look of come talk to me and it works. People find it hard to walk by without stopping to pet him. He enjoys every minute of the attention.

It is not just kids that need dogs.

Parenting Can Be Frustrating Even To Watch

Two adult loons were trying their best to teach two juveniles to dive, a skill they will need to feed themselves. One repeatedly dove when encouraged by an adult while the other did not, preferring to flap its wings and come up out of the water.

My sister Wendy O’Donnell and I were canoeing on a White Mountain National Forest pond, one of my favorite places.

While circling the pond, we encountered an adult loon and two fuzzy brown young about the size of mature ducks. Another loon flew over calling. We gave them a wide birth and moved on.

An hour or so later we encountered them in the middle of the pond, this time there were two adults and two juveniles. We sat quietly in the canoe about 50 feet from them, seemingly ignored.

Over and over an adult would swim up close to a young one and make a quick dive. One would soon follow and then bob back up after a few seconds. It was a different story with the other. No matter how many times one of the adults demonstrated diving, it would not even dip its head into the water preferring instead to rise up and flap its wings.

We watched the lesson for quite a while before paddling away. It was one of those experiences we will remember for a long time.

I can’t speak for the loons but it was frustrating to watch. I wanted to say to the obstinate one, Get with it or you are going to be very hungry when your parents stop catching fish for you to eat and you have to fend for yourself.

Peregrines Have Fledged And The Cliffs Are Open

The cliffs in Vermont that were closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons are now open. The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department has confirmed that all the young falcons have learned to fly and should not be disturbed by human presence on the cliffs.

“The young peregrines have fledged, and nesting data suggest Vermont falcons had a successful year. A final report will be issued later this year,” said Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s migratory bird biologist Doug Morin. “The falcon’s nesting success is due to a combination of factors, including good weather and cooperation from hikers and rock climbers who observe a respectful distance from nesting falcons during this critical period. Peregrine nesting success would not be possible without more than 50 volunteers who monitor the nest sites statewide from March to the end of July.”

According to Audubon biologist Margaret Fowle, who coordinates the monitoring effort on behalf of the Fish and Wildlife Department, biologists and volunteers monitored peregrine pairs that occupied at least 52 Vermont cliffs in early spring and summer.

Vermont Fish and Wildlife and Audubon Vermont partner to monitor and protect peregrine nesting sites in Vermont. Peregrine falcons were removed from the state’s Threatened and Endangered Species List in 2005. Ongoing cooperation from the public and continued monitoring efforts by Vermont Fish and Wildlife and Audubon Vermont will help ensure the peregrine’s remarkable recovery in future years.

Bits and Pieces

Two Vermont State Game Wardens were recognized by Governor Phil Scott and Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter for their service.

Warden Asa Sargent of Hartland received the 2019 Warden of the Year Award and Sergeant Travis Buttle of Shaftsbury received the 2020 Warden of the Year Award. The 2019 award was not made last year due to COVID 19 restrictions.

A game warden since 2016, Asa Sargent received the award for his high motivation and effort, positive attitude, public outreach achievements, and outstanding casework resulting in a 100 percent conviction rate as of 2019. He is a certified Wilderness First Responder assisting in remote search and rescue operations.

Sergeant Travis Buttle has been a warden in the Bennington area for 24 years and is recognized as a diligent and effective protector of Vermont’s natural resources, handling more than 300 cases in 2020. In addition, he was recognized for his public outreach achievements, courteous and responsive professional demeanor, and his valued contributions in remote search and rescue operations.

In one instance Travis responded to a call of a lost autistic boy using his knowledge of behavior and local topography to locate the individual and return him to his family. In another example, a missing deer hunter was lost on a rainy, cold November night. Travis was called out after his regular shift and responded to the command post, assisting the Vermont State Police with planning and executing the successful search and rescue.

“I want to thank both wardens for their outstanding efforts to protect Vermont’s fish and wildlife resources and to serve the people of Vermont,” said Governor Scott. “Wardens Sargent and Buttle were chosen for their integrity, professionalism and commitment, and they have earned respect from other wardens and the public. These awards are very well-deserved.”

“Asa Sargent and Travis Buttle are consummate professionals who effectively and fairly enforce hunting, fishing and trapping laws,” said Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter. “They are great role models for our younger wardens who have joined us in recent years.”


Vermont Fish and Wildlife is offering shooting range improvement grants to encourage upgrades of shooting ranges for enhanced safety and operation.

The Shooting Range Improvement Grant Program seeks grant applications from clubs and government agencies involved in the operation of shooting ranges, including archery ranges. Grant applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. on October 29.

Eligible projects include shooting range re-development, noise abatement structures, safety berms, shooting pads and stations, and the construction or improvement of access roads and parking lots. Grant money may also be used for lead mitigation, such as recycling, reducing range floor surface drainage, or liming range property.

Ranges that receive these grants must provide at least 20 hours of public use per month when in operation and be open at reasonable times for hunter education courses.

For further information or to download an application packet, visit the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department website at Click on “Hunting and Trapping,” and then on “Shooting Ranges in Vermont.” Or, contact Nicole Meier at or by calling 802-318-1347.


The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has launched a new podcast, On the Nature Trail. Based on the New Hampshire Wildlife Journal’s popular column of the same name, author and Fish and Game’s Wildlife Educator Lindsay Webb shares her adventures and wildlife encounters while hiking, biking, and kayaking throughout the Granite State.

Each episode takes the listener on a five-minute journey to a different location and introduces them to the fascinating wildlife Webb meets along the way including garter snakes, water scorpions, and the curious saw-whet owl. Six installments have been produced and new editions will be released throughout the remainder of the year.

On the Nature Trail podcasts are available now on iHeart Radio, Spotify, CastBox, and Apple Podcast, or by visiting


As the summer months continue, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department reminds the public to report sightings of hen turkeys, with or without young, through the Department’s online summer turkey brood survey at

This year’s survey continues through August 31, providing data that will help New Hampshire Fish and Game Department biologists determine the distribution and abundance of wild turkeys throughout the State.

Parting Shots

The rains over the past two weeks have been a big help to crops and streams but made it difficult for those trying to hay. Our pond is now full after being down a half foot in mid-July, a level usually not seen until mid to late August.

The pond is spring-fed and always cold so the trout do well unlike in small streams that get hot when the water is low and the temperatures high. That forces the trout to congregate and makes them susceptible to angers and predators.

Unfortunately, much of the rain fell in torrents wreaking havoc with our half-mile road which I will now have to grade.

Syndicated columnist Gary W. Moore may be reached by email at or at Box 454, Bradford, VT 05033.


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