05 April 2014

An Uncommon Visitor

I can get used to this working from home gig.  Nearly every day for the past two weeks I've watched Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) fly past my office window, including one mature eagle at very close range flying up my driveway being chased by a blackbird.  Just a couple of days ago, we had another visitor that probably would have gone unnoticed had I not been working from home.

The chunky, brown, streaked body, conical beak, and bold white eyeline help to identify this bird as a female Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus).  We've only observed Purple Finch on our property a few times; this is the first female that we've seen.  In many bird species, the females are more difficult to identify because they are less colorful than the males and look similar to females of other species.  In the case of the Purple Finch, the male is definitely more colorful, appearing to have been "dipped in raspberry juice" according to famous American naturalist Roger Tory Peterson, but the female is actually more easily identified.  Male Purple Finches are often confused with male House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus), but female Purple Finches are easily distinguished from female House Finches because of the white eyeline that the House Finch lacks.

Purple Finches are in northern Indiana only in winter; they spend their summers further north of here in moist, cool forests.  Their populations seem to be decreasing, and some think this may be a result of competition with the invasive House Finch.   

I can't wait to see what species I can add to our yard list working from home this spring once songbird migration is well underway.

"Bootypants" by Jason Haney

A nice addition to our living room...

Thanks, Jason!  She looks great!

27 March 2014


There have been some changes at the Namestnik house recently.  First, after over 15 years at JFNew and Cardno JFNew, I left my job and founded Orbis Environmental Consulting with a bat/wildlife biologist and an archaeologist.  Check us out on the web, on Facebook and on LinkedIn.
Then, a week ago, we became the proud parents of an 8 month old Australian Cattle Dog puppy named Cooper.

Wish us luck!!

02 March 2014

2013-2014 Winter Feeder Count Results

Lindsay and I recently completed our sixth consecutive Indiana Audubon Society Winter Bird Feeder Count, an easy and fun citizen science project during which the greatest number of each bird species observed at feeders in your yard on the 20th to 25th of November, December, January, and February are tallied.  Although I mentioned to Lindsay a couple of times during this count how active our feeders were nearly every day, our results show that the number of individuals has been decreasing since we started the count in 2008-2009.  For our results from past Winter Bird Feeder Counts, see our posts here (2012-2013), here (2011-2012), here (2010-2011), and here (2009-2010).

Some of our feeders
Looking back at data from our counts over the years, it quickly becomes apparent that 2008-2009 must have been a standout birding season, as we tallied 27 species at our feeders during that count but have not had more than 23 since.  During the 2013-2014 count, we were just under our average from the previous years of 22.8 species, as we tallied 21.  We had 14 species in November 2013 (the fewest total number of species ever during our counts), 15 species in December 2013, 17 species in January 2014, and 20 species in February 2014.  The 20 species we observed in February was the most in any month of the Winter Bird Feeder Count on our property since the 2008-2009 count, when we had 20 species in December and 25 species in February. 

We get a lot of traffic on the ground under the feeders
The biggest discrepancy in results from this year versus the average of past years was in November and December, as we observed three fewer species than our average numbers during each of those months.  We began feeding a bit later this year than in past years, so it is possible that it takes the birds a little while to find our feeders once we start feeding for the winter and that if we had started feeding earlier in the winter/fall of 2013 our number of species observed in the early months of the count might have been more comparable to our average.

American Tree Sparrow
The list of species observed during our 2013-2014 Winter Bird Feeder Count is found at the end of this post.  Species not observed during this count that we have seen on at least one other count include Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii), Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus), American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos), American Robin (Turdus migratorius), Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis), Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus), Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis), Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus), Common Redpoll (Carduelis flammea), and Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus); however, the first four of these were seen on our property (just not at the feeders or during the count period) this winter.  Conspicuously absent from our feeders (and those of others in this area) in 2013-2014 were the winter finches (such as Common Redpoll and Pine Siskin).  We've tallied a total of 31 species using our feeders (or hawks showing an interest in feeder birds) during the six seasons that we've participated in this count.

Dark-eyed Junco (male)
It was much colder and we had more snow during the 2013-2014 Winter Bird Feeder Count than in the past few years, but the temperatures and snow cover during the count periods were similar to those in 2008-2009.  The low temperature during our 2013-2014 count was -7  degrees Fahrenheit in January and the high temperature reached 45 degrees Fahrenheit in February.  The deepest snow cover during the count was observed in January and February (8 inches).

Tufted Titmouse
Species observed most frequently (those present during all four count periods) in 2013-2014 were Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus), Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata), Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus), Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor), White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis), American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea), Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia), Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis), Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus),  American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis), and House Sparrow (Passer domesticus).

White-breasted Nuthatch
Species observed in greatest abundance during a single month of the count (with the greatest number observed at one time in parentheses) were House Sparrow (17 in December), American Tree Sparrow (16 in December, 15 in February, and 12 in January), American Goldfinch (12 in February), Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) (11 in January), and Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) (10 in February).

Blue Jay
The most abundant species based on average over the four months of the count were American Tree Sparrow (12.5), House Sparrow (9.25), American Goldfinch (8.75), and Dark-eyed Junco (7.75). 

Downy Woodpecker (female)
The number of individuals of the most abundant species continued to decrease from those reported in the past few years; two years ago we had four species that averaged over 10 individuals during the four months of the count.
Hairy Woodpecker (male)
Just as in 2012-2013, one of our most notable observations during this count was a lack of White-crowned Sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys).  The decline in number of individuals of this species at our feeders, from an average of 3.0 over the count period in 2008-2009 to an average of 0.25 over the count period during the past two years, may be indicative of their shifting population, as reports show that their numbers are increasing in parts of the continent but decreasing in other parts.
Red-bellied Woodpecker (male) (top) and Black-capped Chickadee (bottom)
Another notable observation in 2013-2014 was the presence of a Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca) during three of the four months of the count.  This was only the second time during a Winter Bird Feeder Count that this handsome reddish brown and gray bird has made an appearance at our feeders (also present during the 2010-2011 count), and on days when it was present it stuck around almost the entire day.

Fox Sparrow (top) with Dark-eyed Junco (bottom)
2013-2014 Winter Bird Feeder Count Species List
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)
Blue Jay
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
American Tree Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

16 February 2014

There's Still Time to Participate in the 2014 Great Backyard Bird Count!

The 2014 Great Backyard Bird Count has reached its halfway point.  If you haven't had a chance to participate in the first two days of the count, hopefully you can count birds and submit a checklist on Sunday or Monday.  Saturday was an interesting day in the field in northern Indiana, with many birds (Black-capped Chickadee, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, and Red-bellied Woodpecker, among others) singing their spring songs.
Horned Lark in rural LaPorte County, Indiana
Some of my highlights from the first two days of the Great Backyard Bird Count include Fox Sparrow and Cooper's Hawk on our property; Canvasback, Redhead, Common Merganser, Common Goldeneye, and Bufflehead at University of Notre Dame; Common Merganser, Horned Grebe, and Horned Lark in rural LaPorte County; and Common Merganser, Hermit Thrush, Lesser Scaup, White-crowned Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, and an adult intermediate morph western Red-tailed Hawk at Kingsbury Fish and Wildlife Area in LaPorte County.

Common Goldeneye (male and female) at St. Joseph Lake at University of Notre Dame in St. Joseph County, Indiana
To participate in the count, you don't necessarily need to travel; you can count birds in your yard or at a location of your choice.  Good luck if you get a chance to join the last two days of the Great Backyard Bird Count.

10 January 2014

The Legend of Bootypants, Part II

As seen in The Legend of Bootypants, Part I, Booty had already lived a legendary dog life by 2005, but she'd only lived about half of her life by that time.  The second half of her life is documented below.

Although Bootypants was never into swimming, she enjoyed having her feet in the water, especially on a hot summer day.  Photograph by Bryn Scriver/John Nondorf (2006).
For Booty's 10th birthday in February 2006, she had a smaller gathering join Scott and Lindsay at their house in South Bend to celebrate.  This party lacked the surprise of her 9th birthday party, but it didn't lack a delicious homemade birthday cake with raspberry filling. 

The cake made by Susan for Booty's 10th birthday (2006).
Bootypants had always wanted to revisit her home town of Van Buren, Missouri, and in July 2006 she had that opportunity when Scott and Lindsay were traveling there for Justin and Dana Thomas' five year wedding anniversary gathering.  Booty stayed in a cabin with the rest of the group and enjoyed hikes and bonfires the entire weekend.  It had been years since she had seen those Ozark woods and some of the loving people who initially took her in at Peck Ranch in the summer of 1998, but she seemed to remember them all... Justin Thomas, Brad Russell, Mike Williams, Bryn Scriver, and Matt Proett.  In addition to learning from Mike how to best cook bratwurst on a charcoal grill, she scored a vanilla ice cream cone from everyone's favorite Van Buren hangout, Jolly Cone.

On a camping trip in Van Buren, Missouri in 2006, Booty let Scott know that she wanted to learn plants.  Photograph by Bryn Scriver/John Nondorf.
In April 2007, Scott and Lindsay moved from South Bend to North Liberty, Indiana, and with a new (old) house came 11 acres on which Bootypants could roam and explore. Soon after moving in, Scott cut trails throughout the property, and Booty made good use of those trails nearly every day of her life.  Bootypants always had been a happy dog, but with this move it felt to Scott and Lindsay as though she was finally at home. 

By 2007, Booty had her own hand lens and was identifying grasses such as this Elymus canadensis (Canada wild rye) specimen.
The average dog lives just over 11 years.  Bootypants turned 11 in 2007, and it seemed she was really hitting the peak of her life at that time.  Clearly, Booty was not an average dog.

Christmas 2007 in North Liberty, Indiana.
Each spring, Bootypants enjoyed the annual Easter tradition of having both Scott's and Lindsay's families come to her house to visit her.  In addition to picking up dropped food from the floor, convincing Scott and Lindsay's niece Lily to hand over an entire Reese's Peanut Butter Egg, and getting the occasional bite of sweet potato casserole from Scott, she also enjoyed helping Chloe and Lily search for Easter eggs in the yard.

Booty always seemed more happy outside than inside, and she enjoyed Easter egg hunts like this one in 2009.
Unlike her mom, Booty was not a fair-weather hiker.  In fact, Booty might have preferred winter over the other three seasons.  She always insisted on going for walks on the trails on her property, regardless of how much snow was on the ground or the temperature.

On her winter walks, Bootypants loved to bury her face in the snow, as seen here in 2010.
That's not to say that Bootypants didn't also enjoy the spring, and a walk in the woods on a beautiful May afternoon was a pleasure for Scott and Lindsay as well.

More smiles!  Booty with Lindsay in a St. Joseph County mesic upland forest in spring 2010.
After a snowstorm in the winter of 2011 to 2012, Lindsay, understanding Booty's love of snow, decided to get creative and build a snow fort.  Booty invited her friend Lassie for an afternoon Pup-peroni snack.  After some coaxing, Lindsay was able to convince Booty to pose for a now infamous photo.

Bootypants and Lassie in their snow fort in 2011.  It appears that they had too much fun while Scott was at work.
In October 2011, Scott and Lindsay finally began to acknowledge that Bootypants had entered her "senior" years. Although she had been to the emergency vet on several occasions (for the cut on her eye and her encounter with another dog that were mentioned in the previous post, and also for falling down a flight of steps while visiting the Walczaks in Illinois), her first serious medical issue arose when Scott and Lindsay returned from a trip to Costa Rica.  Booty was sick, so Scott and Lindsay took her to the trusted Dr. Meyer and his wonderful crew at Meyer Veterinary Hospital in Walkerton, Indiana.  Sadly, Booty's diagnosis was liver failure.  Bootypants spent the night at Dr. Meyer's office, where she received IV fluids, antibiotics, and meds to help begin to reverse the liver failure. 

Back at home in North Liberty, Indiana after receiving fluids via IV following her liver failure diagnosis in October 2011.
Scott was scheduled to be in Madison, Wisconsin for work the day that Bootypants went to the vet.  Dr. Meyer explained that dogs in liver failure are unpredictable, and that he had seen dogs in Booty's shape pass right away, while others lived for several years after diagnosis.  It was a difficult decision, but Scott had to head to Wisconsin.  The following day, Lindsay picked up Bootypants and brought her home.  Booty vomited and slept, and was very weak.  Lindsay really wasn't sure if Booty was going to survive until Scott returned home, but being the trooper that she was, she eventually pulled through.  Scott returned a couple of days later, and he and Lindsay ordered Chinese food for dinner.  Booty hadn't eaten anything in several days, but she seemed interested in Lindsay's garlic chicken.  Lindsay jokingly asked Booty if she was going to eat the garlic chicken, then held a piece out on a fork.  To Scott and Lindsay's astonishment, she rapidly gobbled it up.  Lindsay then gave her several more pieces of garlic chicken.  For the next couple of weeks, Booty ate better than Scott and Lindsay, having fresh-cooked chicken and rice twice each day.  Eventually, she started eating her dog food again, but she had to take two different liver pills daily for the rest of her life.

In February 2012, Bootypants celebrated her 16th birthday by having lots of her friends over to her property in North Liberty, Indiana. And yes, those are pink Bootypants shirts.  Photograph by Sam Lima.
Booty's health scare made Scott and Lindsay realize that she needed another birthday party, so in February 2012 they held her 16th birthday party as a bonfire event.

A content Booty celebrates her sweet 16th.  Photograph by Sam Lima (2012).
Although Bootypants wasn't as energetic at her 16th birthday party as she was at her 9th and 10th, she definitely enjoyed the attention... and the cake. 

Birthday cake!  Photograph by Sam Lima (2012).
As at her other parties, there was a pretty good turnout for Booty's 16th birthday party. Video from Booty's surprise 9th birthday party was shown on the television, and Scott and Lindsay planned a couple of games and a "Booty Quiz" for party participants. Prizes for the game winners included Bootypants playing cards, Bootypants coasters, and an "I 'heart' Booty" mug.

Booty with some of her friends at her 16th birthday party.  Photograph by Sam Lima (2012).
As Booty aged, she developed arthritis in her back hips.  She slowed down more and more but still would go for walks and enjoyed spending time with Scott, Lindsay, and their friends and family.  Daily aspirin and Tramadol were added to the daily liver pills.  Booty despised taking pills, and eventually got to the point of knowing there was a pill in the middle of the cheese or lunch meat snack.  She would sniff out the pill, take it out of the cheese or lunch meat, and spit it out (but still eat the cheese or lunch meat).  She was opinionated, unique, and hilarious, and grew more so as she aged.

Over the years, Bootypants learned to open presents, as seen here at Christmas 2012.
Scott and Lindsay are grateful for the time they were able to spend with Bootypants over the years.  Booty was an amazing dog who lived a long, happy life.  The legend of Bootypants will never be forgotten.

Booty enjoyed a mid-day nap in August 2013.

29 December 2013

The Legend of Bootypants, Part I

No one knows when the legend of Bootypants actually began, but our best guess is that Booty was born around February 1997.  Years later, we decided to make February 14, 1997 Booty's official birthday.  We don't know what she did for the first year-and-a-half of her life, but in the summer of 1998 Booty found her way to Peck Ranch near Van Buren, Missouri, where she met some of the women working on a seasonal bird crew.

As a puppy at Peck Ranch in Missouri (1998), Bootypants hadn't even learned how to sit correctly!  She always sat on her hip with both back legs to one side.
As fate would have it, Scott was working on a seasonal botany crew stationed at Peck Ranch that same summer.  When a woman named Summer from the birding crew brought a scraggly, emaciated blue heeler mix with mange, conjunctivitis, and numerous ticks back to the ranch, everyone immediately fell in love with the goofy dog with the black "bootypants."  The summer wore on, and although Red (the other stray dog that showed up that summer) wandered off, Bootypants didn't.  Each day the crews would return from the field expecting Bootypants to no longer be at the ranch, but each day she was still there.  Eventually, someone bought a bag of dog food and started feeding her.

A scrawny Bootypants as a puppy with floppy ears at Peck Ranch in Van Buren, Missouri (1998).
With the end of the summer came the end of the field crews' stay at Peck Ranch.  Some of Scott's coworkers were going back to college.  Others were moving on to another seasonal position in another location.  A few weren't sure what they were going to be doing after the Ozark seasonal positions ended.  Scott, on the other hand, had recently accepted a job in northern Indiana and expected to be there for a while.  Everyone agreed that Bootypants couldn't be left there after she had become accustomed to being fed at the ranch, so Scott made the decision to take Bootypants with him.  He didn't know it at the time, but this would turn out to be one of the best decisions of his life.

It wasn't a difficult decision for Scott to take Bootypants with him to Indiana!  Photograph by Bryn Scriver (1998).
After making this decision, Scott took Bootypants to the local veterinarian.  A bath, some pills, shots, and eye drops later, Scott returned Bootypants to Peck Ranch with just a few days remaining before the drive back to Ohio prior to moving to Indiana.  Booty apparently didn't care for the bath, because the next day after work Scott returned to the ranch to find Booty covered in engine oil.  Nothing another bath couldn't take care of!  Around that same time, Bryn Scriver bought Bootypants a leash and some hard rubber toys.  Booty responded by taking the toys into a wooded area and burying them.  No one ever saw those toys again.  Those who know Booty couldn't help but wonder if this was a clue as to Booty's life before Peck Ranch, where she might have had to fight for food and hide anything she could get.  On the last day that the field crews were at Peck Ranch, Booty grabbed a shirt from Justin Thomas' bag and chewed a hole in it, and she stole his underwear from the back of his truck.  Again, the underwear were buried in the gravelly Ozark soil, never to be seen again.

Bootypants and Scott on one of their last days in Missouri (1998).
All of these things, as well as vomiting and defecating when she rode in a vehicle, were part of the Booty charm.  However, before the 13 hour drive back to Painesville, Ohio, Scott gave Booty motion sickness medication, and she made it the entire way without an accident.  Scott and Booty spent their first night together in a smoky Illinois hotel room.  Booty must have been scared, not knowing where she was or what was going on, but you never would have known.  Just as with everything else in her life, she adapted very quickly.  Booty then spent the next week with Scott's parents, brother, and sister in Painesville while Scott got settled and found a place to live in LaPorte, Indiana.

Booty often sat like this in her favorite (nasty) chair, as she did in 1998 in LaPorte, Indiana after a bath.
While in LaPorte for the next six months, Bootypants settled into a life of digging holes all day long while Scott was at work and running laps from room to room through the apartment when people came to visit.  Booty was a good student, learning commands such as sit, down, shake, high five, and everyone's favorite, "bang, dead dog," very quickly.  However, she didn't really bark at all for the first several months that Scott knew her, so she didn't learn "speak" until a bit later in her life.  One of Booty's most unexpected tricks occurred on an evening when Scott had picked up a Pizza Hut pizza for dinner.  Up until that time, Booty had never had "people food" and wasn't much of a begger.  Scott put a couple of pieces of pepperoni pizza on a plate that was on the counter a good four feet off the ground.  Scott walked away, and when he turned around Booty leapt up, cleanly took one piece of pizza from the plate, and proceeded to run into another room to eat the pizza.  She never did anything like that again in her life.  During the snowy winter of 1998-1999, Bootypants learned how much she loved being in and playing in the snow, especially when it was so deep that it made it difficult to walk through.

Soon after moving to Indiana, Booty's right ear began to stand up, while her left ear was still floppy.  She loved the snow, and there was plenty during one storm event in winter 1999 in LaPorte, Indiana.
In 1999, Scott moved to an apartment in North Liberty, Indiana.  Up until that time, Bootypants had spent the days outside on a run, with the garage door open and her Dogloo in the garage.  You can imagine Scott's concern in moving to an apartment where Booty would have to spend the entire day in the house, considering that she was so full of energy as to dig holes (numerous holes) during the day when she lived in LaPorte.  On the first day at the new apartment, Scott came home from work at lunch to see what the damage was, but there was none.  From that day forward, Booty seemed to calm down and grow out of her puppy stage. 

In 1999, Lindsay, Bootypants, and Scott hiked frequently at Potato Creek State Park in St. Joseph County, Indiana.  Although Booty was always on a leash during their walks, she was well behaved from the time Scott met her and never really needed a leash.
Booty was always very respectful of others' property.  Aside from Justin's clothes mentioned previously, there was never any damage to furniture, carpets, or other materials.  Apparently, however, Booty had abandonment issues (maybe another sign of her past life).  Scott would occasionally go out of town for work or to visit friends and would leave Booty at home or at a kennel.  Booty quickly figured out that a large duffel bag or a suitcase in the kitchen meant that Scott would be gone for a couple of days.  One day Scott was getting ready to travel and left his luggage in the kitchen while he ran an errand.  Booty didn't know that she was going to go with Scott on this trip, and Scott returned to find a torn up couch cushion.  This happened only once; Bootypants felt bad afterwards.

Booty was a little leery of opening presents at first, as she was in this photograph at Scott's apartment in North Liberty, Indiana (c. 1999).
It was while living in North Liberty that Scott and Bootypants first met Lindsay, and Lindsay quickly became an important part of both of their lives.  Scott and Bootypants would make frequent visits to Valparaiso University on weekends to visit Lindsay while she finished college.  On one of these trips, Lindsay was taking Bootypants in her car and decided that maybe it was a good idea to not feed Booty immediately before the car ride.  Bootypants never vomited or had an accident in a car again from that day forward, and in fact she began to enjoy car rides.  She quickly learned the words "park," "ride," and "Ohio."

By 2000, Bootypants had lost a lot of her puppy tendencies, and she had learned how to sit, as seen here in Painesville, Ohio.
Bootypants wasn't a fan of rumble strips.  On a trip to Ohio, just west of "dead man's curve" on I-90/SR-2, Booty woke from her sleep and jumped into the front of Scott's Dodge Shadow when the car went over the rumble strips, knocking the gear shift from drive into neutral.  Scott and Lindsay then learned to prepare Booty for the rumble strips prior to hitting them, and Bootypants never had an issue with rumble strips again.

Booty stared down the party pig after the infamous party pig night (morning), c. 2000.
While living in North Liberty, Booty met Sidney, a yellow lab who lived downstairs from Scott's apartment.  Sidney loved to chase tennis balls; Booty loved to chase Sidney and herd her back to Scott and Lindsay with the ball.  Scott and Lindsay really enjoyed watching both dogs do what they were bred to do, Sidney without regard to Booty and Booty without regard to the ball.

Booty didn't like posing for photos, but she was always a good sport, as seen here in Scott's North Liberty, Indiana apartment, c. 2000.
It was while Scott was living in North Liberty that Booty first demonstrated one of her other quirks.  When emergency vehicles with sirens would go by the house, Booty would howl along.  However, her "howl" was either at a frequency that humans couldn't hear or it was a mostly silent howl.  The howl was hilarious, dramatic, and difficult to describe.  It was somewhat throaty and airy, and it still isn't clear whether she was doing it to sound like the sirens or just to make people laugh.

Lindsay and Scott thought Booty needed a new toy, so they bought her a near life-sized "Lassie" for Christmas (c. 2001).
In 2002, Lindsay, Scott, and Bootypants bought a house in South Bend, Indiana, where Booty enjoyed having an entire fenced-in yard to herself.  It was here that Booty continued to make lifelong friends with new neighbors who were introduced to her.

At her first owned house (in South Bend, Indiana), Booty posed yet again (c. 2004).  By this time, both of her ears stood upright, and her body had filled out.
As Booty's 9th birthday was approaching, Lindsay and Scott got the idea that it would be fun to hold a surprise birthday party for her.  They realized that Booty was too smart and would have expected a party on her 10th birthday.  Plans were made, and many of Booty's friends made the trip to South Bend to celebrate with her.

One of the cakes at the surprise birthday party held for Booty's 9th birthday. Photograph by Bryn Scriver (2005).
No birthday party is complete without a birthday cake.  Lindsay ordered a "people food" cake specifically for the occasion (can you imagine what the baker/decorator was thinking making this cake?).  Some of Booty's friends were thinking more of Bootypants and made her a dog food, dog biscuit, Vienna sausage, and cheese stick cake.  Booty enjoyed both of these tremendously.

The dog cake made by Anne and Bert for Booty's 9th birthday party.  Scott might or might not have helped Booty finish the cake.  Photograph by Bryn Scriver (2005).
On the day of the party, Scott kept Bootypants downstairs with the door closed for the hour or so that people were arriving.  Scott and Booty could hear noises upstairs, and Scott could tell that Booty was getting very anxious.  Finally the moment came when Lindsay opened the door.  Bootypants bolted up the steps and first into the kitchen where people had packed the room and were blowing noisemakers and yelling "surprise!" and "happy birthday!"  Booty quickly greeted each one of those people before running into the living room to do the same.  That was one happy dog!

That's one happy dog, at her surprise party when she realized how many people were there to see her.  Photograph by Bryn Scriver (2005).
Scott and Lindsay quickly realized that Booty had more friends than they did.  The states of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, California, and possibly one more were all represented at Booty's surprise 9th birthday party. 

Another shot of the birthday girl in the scarf that Bryn made for her.  Photograph by Bryn Scriver (2005).
On most occasions when Scott and Lindsay had friends over, Booty would stay awake for a while but she would eventually go to bed before the others or leave them on their own to have fun.  On her 9th birthday, however, Booty understood that it was her party, and as a result she stayed awake and interactive the entire time, until everyone had gone home or to bed.  This was possibly one of the most fun and exciting days of Booty's life.

A favorite Bootypants photograph in South Bend, Indiana (c. 2005).
Bootypants liked having company at her house, but she also often traveled with Scott and Lindsay.  She would join in on regular trips to Ohio and Illinois, always eager to see family and friends.

A Booty Burrito (c. 2005).
Scott and Lindsay went on a lot of camping and birding trips in the early 2000s, and Bootypants always was excited to join them.  Booty made trips to various camping and birding destinations in Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, and Ohio during her life.  She particularly enjoyed hanging out with everyone by the campfire, but also looked forward to going on walks in new places.

Booty loved to camp, as seen in this photograph at Hardin Ridge in Hoosier National Forest in 2005.
Another of Booty's favorite pastimes was going for walks or hikes, especially when they involved going to new places with new smells.  On some occasions, Scott and Lindsay would take Booty off-trail with them, as was the case at Holaday Fen in Marshall County, Indiana.  While Scott investigated the flora and Lindsay looked for birds, Booty enjoyed the fresh air and the animal tracks while marking her territory repeatedly.  Unfortunately, Booty learned the plant Rice Cut Grass (Leersia oryzoides) at Holaday Fen, resulting in her first trip to the emergency vet for a cut on her cornea.

Booty loved to hike, as seen at Holaday Fen in Marshall County, Indiana (2005).
Booty's next emergency vet trip came during a Christmas trip to Ohio in 2005.  While visiting Scott's parents, Scott took Bootypants out for her evening bathroom break and they were rudely greeted by the dog from next door, which was loose.  Scott was trying to fend off the dog while he was unknowingly lifting Booty up by her leash, leaving her belly exposed.  Scott didn't realize that the other dog had bitten Bootypants until they got back inside and saw blood dripping on the floor.  At the emergency vet, Booty's belly was shaved and the wound was cleaned, but the vet couldn't put in stitches because the wound had to drain.  As a result, Booty had to wear a cone for a couple of weeks so that she wouldn't lick the wound as it healed.

Booty hated her cone, but it was necessary to help her belly heal after her encounter with another dog the day after Christmas 2005.
Stay tuned for The Legend of Bootypants, Part II, coming soon.