24 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Lindsay, Scott, and Cooper!
 
 



04 October 2014

From Billions to None

Don't miss your opportunity to see the film From Billions to None: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction at Indiana University South Bend on October 14 at 7 PM.  In addition to the documentary, Joel Greenberg, author of A Feathered River Across the Sky (about the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon) and one of the major contributors to the documentary, will be on hand to answer questions and sign his book.  Hope to see you there!
 

15 September 2014

Orchids Are Weeds

Okay, so maybe saying that orchids are weeds is a bit of a dramatic exaggeration.  However, while mowing the trails on our St. Joseph County, Indiana property yesterday, I had to slam on the brakes inches from mowing the fourth orchid species that we've documented on our property, October Lady's Tresses (Spiranthes ovalis var. erostellata). If you're a follower of this blog, you may know that the previous three orchids we'd found on our property were Ragged Fringed Orchid (Platanthera lacera), Purple Twayblade (Liparis liliifolia), and Green Twayblade (Liparis loeselii).  After finding the third of those, I asked readers of this blog (tongue in cheek) which orchid species we would find next.  Keith Board has to win some kind of prize for predicting that we would find this species.  My find today is even more interesting because I saw this species growing on the St. Joseph and Elkhart county line on Friday last week and came home to look for it on our property in a young successional wooded area.  I struck out.  I guess I was looking in the wrong place and instead needed to be sitting on a riding mower to find it.
 

Sure, a weed is often defined as a plant out of place.  In that sense, I don't necessarily consider orchids weeds.  However, the more I see and learn, the more I think that many of our orchid species require disturbance to grow, reproduce, and continue to be evident above ground, and without that disturbance, they cease to exist (at least until the disturbance returns) (see the dialog in the comments of this post for a discussion on this topic).  In this case, the orchid I found is growing right at the edge of the trail that I mow regularly, in old-field, with mostly non-native species and weedy native species such as Tall Fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus), Riverbank Grape (Vitis riparia), and Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans ssp. negundo). 


As seen in the photograph below, the flowers of October Lady's Tresses (also known as Oval Ladies'-tresses) are usually in three spiraling ranks.  The flowers (and specifically the lip) are smaller than many of the other members of the genus Spiranthes, with the lip reaching only approximately 5.5 mm; the other two species that have flowers that minute in the lower Great Lakes region have either a yellow or green spot on the upper surface of the lip.  The lip on October Lady's Tresses is quite recurved and is usually inrolled, giving it a narrow appearance. Another good field character used to help identify October Lady's Tresses is seen in the photograph above... notice that the leaves are present and conspicuous when the plant is in flower. 


Whereas many of our Spiranthes grow in full sun habitats, October Lady's Tresses is more shade-tolerant and does best in openings in woods, along trails, and in young successional woods.  It also is found in thickets and in old-fields.  When forests mature and less light can reach the forest floor, this species tends to be less prevalent, an indication that it requires disturbance. You can see the habitat where I found the plant on our property in the photograph below (it is just about in the middle of the photo).  Not an area that anyone would consider "high quality" by any means.


The range of October Lady's Tresses includes the eastern United States and the province of Ontario.  However, it is not known from more than a large handful of counties in any of the states in which it occurs, and its county distribution is fairly even over its range.  That said, this species is increasing its range and distribution, likely in part due to the increased level of disturbance to our natural areas.  So... is it just a weed?  Certainly a unique and welcomed one on our property!

27 June 2014

Frog Monitoring Comes to a Close

During the last two nights I conducted my third of three sets of frog and toad call monitoring for the year at five sites for the FrogWatch USA citizen science program. This year was a pretty good year for my sites, as I logged 10 of the 11 species that could be expected in the South Bend, Indiana area:
  • Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica)
  • Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata)
  • Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)
  • American Toad (Bufo americanus)
  • Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens)
  • Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris)
  • Blanchard's Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans blanchardi)
  • Eastern Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor)
  • Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans)
  • American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)
I did not hear a Fowler's Toad (Bufo fowleri) at my sites in 2014.

Calling Eastern Gray Treefrog in South Bend, Indiana, June 25, 2014
Chamberlain Lake Nature Preserve is one of just a few places in this area where you can find Blanchard's Cricket Frog.  In the video below, you can hear the "clicking marbles" call of that species, as well as the loud  "Red-bellied Woodpecker-like trills" of the Eastern Gray Treefrog and the "banjo twang" of the Green Frog.

video

It's always a treat to get to see how these tiny frogs produce such a loud sound.  The video below shows a calling Eastern Gray Treefrog.

video

Frog and toad calls are starting to wind down a bit for the year, but that only means that the singing insects are just getting started.  Now is the time to start listening for them as they fill the night with their characteristic melodies.

26 June 2014

A Rare Treat

If you follow this blog, you know that I am a big fan of the milkweeds (Asclepias spp.), not only for their unique flower morphology but also for their importance to a long list of insect species.  It is no surprise, then, that on a recent trip to Starved Rock State Park near Utica in LaSalle County, Illinois, I had to stop to snap a few shots of the somewhat uncommon Poke Milkweed (Asclepias exaltata).


Unlike many of our milkweeds that grow in open to partly shaded conditions, Poke Milkweed thrives in rich soils and grows in partly shaded to shaded conditions of woodlands and forests.  Its range includes much of the eastern part of North America, extending west just past the Mississippi River into Minnesota and Iowa.


Although it isn't necessarily considered a species of conservation concern, when you are lucky enough to find Poke Milkweed, you generally don't see it in large numbers.  According to Swink and Wilhelm (1994), Poke Milkweed can be absent or found in very small numbers in a given forest for many years, and then inexplicably it will be found in great numbers in the same woods.


The flowers of Poke Milkweed are interesting in part because they are bi-colored.  The corolla lobes (petals) are greenish-yellow, whereas the hoods of the corona are white to faintly pink.


Although it has opposite leaves with milky sap, the leaves have a texture and venation that can superficially be confused with the alternate-leaved Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), giving rise to the common name Poke Milkweed. This similarity was noted by Frederick Pursh, who assigned the Latin name Asclepias phytolaccoides to this species.  The older name Asclepias exaltata, assigned by Carl Linnaeus, is the currently accepted Latin name.

Swink, F. and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region. 4th edition. Indianapolis: Indiana Academy of Science.

24 June 2014

Scenes from the Hill Prairie

Late May is a spectacular time on the gravel hill prairie.  The gravel provides a low-nutrient substrate that keeps vegetation competition to a minimum, and as a result several prairie species that are generally not as competitive have the opportunity to thrive.  The photographs that follow are from 28 May 2014 on a gravel hill prairie in McHenry County, Illinois.
 

Viola pedata (Bird's Foot Violet)

Minuartia stricta (Rock Sandwort)

Lithospermum incisum (Fringed Gromwell)

Geum triflorum (Prairie Smoke)

Geum triflorum (Prairie Smoke) in fruit

20 June 2014

Grass Identification and Ecology Workshop to be Offered at The Morton Arboretum

UPDATE: THE AUGUST 21-22, 2014 WORKSHOP IS SOLD OUT.  A SECOND SESSION IS BEING HELD ON SEPTEMBER 17-18, 2014.  RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!
 
Tired of seeing "unknown grass" and "Dichanthelium sp." on your vegetation sampling datasheets?  Need to know what species that Elymus is to figure out if you're in a wetland or an upland?  Interested in learning vegetative characteristics for some of our more common grasses?  Just want to know more about grass identification and ecology in general?  If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," then the workshop discussed below being held on August 21-22, 2014 at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois may be for you.  If you have any questions about the workshop, email Scott Namestnik at snamestnik@orbisec.com.


GRASS IDENTIFICATION AND ECOLOGY WORKSHOP
Learn to identify the grasses that add beauty and interest to the summer and fall landscape. Grasses allow us to read the landscape: from soils, habitat, disturbance and past land uses. They form a critical component of the biodiversity and with nearly 11,000 species, this is the fourth largest plant family. This workshop consists of an intensive, hands-on approach incorporating both classroom work and field study.  Identify warm season grasses in the field and lab, learn the specialized terminology and distinguishing features, discuss their ecology, and practice identifying species from keys. 

Instructor: Scott Namestnik, senior botanist, Orbis Environmental Consulting
Notes: Held both indoors and outdoors. Please dress for the weather each day. Limit 20
Supplies: Please bring a water bottle, a hand lens, and wear sturdy, closed-toed shoes for walking over uneven terrain. Fee includes all workshop handouts, morning refreshments and a box lunch.
Intended audience: Advanced students and professionals.
Certificate information: Can be used as a Naturalist Certificate, WSP elective (14 hours)
Prerequisites: Prior experience with plant identification required
Course number: S318

SCHEDULE AND LOCATION:
Thursday, August 21 and Friday, August 22, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Botany Lab, Research Center, The Morton Arboretum

FEES AND ADMISSION:
Nonmembers: Fees include admission to the Arboretum.
$150.00 members
$176.00 nonmembers
$50.00 students; call 630-719-2468 or email registrar-ed@mortonarb.org for student rate

REGISTRATION INFORMATION:

CALL: 630-719-2468
IN PERSON: Stop by the Visitor Center during open hours.
ONLINE: REGISTER NOW at http://www.mortonarb.org/courses/grass-identification-and-ecology

20 May 2014

Spring is Mustard Season

In early April I made a trip down to extreme southern Indiana with Mike Homoya and Roger Hedge to see a unique spring ephemeral native mustard in bloom.  Our target was Michaux's Gladecress (Leavenworthia uniflora), and we weren't disappointed.  We met up with Jason Larson and Derek Luchik to see this little gem.
 

Michaux's Gladecress is a tiny plant, with the largest specimens only reaching about seven inches tall when in flower; most plants are much shorter than this.  As an annual calciphile that can't tolerate competition from other plants, Michaux's Gladecress is restricted to areas with limestone at or near the surface, such as glades, rocky old fields, roadsides, and rocky ledges. In Indiana, this habitat is only found in the southeastern part of the state, near the Ohio River.


Limestone glades aren't common in Indiana, and as a result Michaux's Gladecress isn't common in the Hoosier State.  Even within the glades that are present, this little mustard is really only found in areas of nearly bare soil; it is more common in areas with exposed limestone that are near but not in the glades.  In areas meeting this description, the species can be rather abundant, growing in tiny cracks in the limestone or areas where a miniscule amount of soil has accumulated.


Michaux's Gladecress is only known from Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana.  In Indiana, its populations are restricted to Clark County, and as a result it is listed as endangered; globally it is apparently secure (G4).

What a great way to start off the botanical year!

11 May 2014

Cooper at Bendix Woods

Lindsay, Cooper, and I took a quick walk this afternoon at Bendix Woods County Park in St. Joseph County, Indiana for me to prepare for a field trip I am leading there next weekend for Shirley Heinze Land Trust.  Lucky for us, Cooper loves hiking, and he seemed right at home with the blooming Trillium grandiflorum, Enemion biternatum, and Asarum canadense.
 

Happy dog!!


After hiking at a new park, Cooper seems amazingly more calm when we get home.

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

Changes

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.