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Skye is one of nearly 20 canine recruits currently training to become search-and-rescue dogs.

Denise Sanders

Skye is one of nearly 20 canine recruits currently training to become search-and-rescue dogs.


Critter Corner

All the Animal News That’s Fit to Print


Thursday, April 4, 2013

SEARCH-AND-RESCUE DOGS: A new batch of doggies is learning the important skills of disaster search and rescue. Since its founding in 1996, the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) has been training pooches for the difficult job of finding people who are buried alive in wreckage. Based in Ojai, the Class of 2013 includes a plethora of willing pups, including yellow Labs Taylor and Cassie, a border collie mix Skye, and black Lab Crockett. To learn more about SDF and how you can help, visit searchdogfoundation.org.

THE BEESKNEES: Bees are all the buzz these days, so why not learn all you can about the little guys? The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is offering a two-hour seminar about these nectar eaters that includes a talk by UC Berkeley entomologist Dr. Gordon Frankie about their behavior and the flowers that love them, as well as a visit to the garden meadow to observe the bees in action. Meet and mingle with the S.B. Beekeepers after the presentation. The seminar takes place Saturday, April 13, 10 a.m.-noon, at the Botanic Garden’s Blaksley Library (1212 Mission Canyon Rd.), and costs $45 for nonmembers. For more info, call 682-4726 or visit sbbg.org.

Elizabeth Poett

Doc Mishler and his horses have been traveling the country, helped along by kind strangers.

TRAVELING COWBOY: Doc Mishler has been on the road a long while. He and his horse Chief Free Spirit have traversed the U.S. for the past few years, relying on the generosity of strangers for food and shelter. Last week, Mishler rode up to Lompoc’s Rancho San Julian on Highway 1, asking to water his horses and for a place to camp for the night. “We helped him out the best we could,” said ranch resident Elizabeth Poett. “He likes his coffee black and a lot of it. And he loves to ride.” The man and his pony are heading south through Santa Barbara, so tip your hat if you see the wandering cowboy.

By Paul Wellman

Dolphins are a frequent sight in the shallow waters off Santa Barbara shores.

NATURE-MINDED: Santa Barbara–based organizations Wild Wisdom and POD (Protect Our Dolphins) are sponsoring a five-part lecture series titled Finding Wild Wisdom: Renewal and Communion with Animals and Nature. The sessions explore humans’ “relationship to animals and nature, realizing that the salvation of our planet includes forming new levels of communication and communion with all living beings,” according to Wild Wisdom’s website. The series runs for five Sundays and covers a different topic each time. April 7 is What Is Wild Wisdom? Why Do We Need It? How Do We Get It?; April 14 is Learning to Listen: The Wild Languages of Earth, Sea and Sky, with author Terri Jentz as guest speaker; April 21 is Going Deep: The Dolphins, Whales and Our Oceanic Kin; April 28 is Winged Wisdom: Messages from Above; and May 5 is Illumination to Involvement: Reaching Your Own Potential of Living Wisely and Well in the Interspecies Global Village. All lectures are 3-5:30 p.m. at La Casa de Maria (800 El Bosque Rd., Montecito). Cost is $175; space is limited. For more info and to register, call 969-5031 or visit lacasademaria.org.

Ojai Raptor Center is home to myriad taloned birds, such as this short-eared owl, Flame.
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Ojai Raptor Center is home to myriad taloned birds, such as this short-eared owl, Flame.

THE EAGLE, THE HAWK, AND THE OWL: It’s not often you can get nose to beak with a bird of prey ​— ​most of them prefer to keep their distance from humans. This weekend, however, folks have the chance to get up close and personal with some magnificent raptors at the Ojai Raptor Center’s open house. Myriad eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls currently live at the Ojai Raptor Center (ORC); some will be released after being rehabilitated, and some, who can no longer live in the wild, call the center home. Since last spring, ORC has added two new “ambassadors” to its ranks: an albino turkey vulture and a northern pygmy owl (one of the smallest owls in North America). Raptor specialists will be on hand to talk about the different birds and give tips on how people can help to reduce man-made hazards to our native wildlife. There will also be snacks, drinks, and kids’ activities. ORC is “dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of birds of prey and other wildlife, and to providing educational programs to teach communities about raptors and our shared environment.” The center also works with area farmers and residents through a Barn Owl Box program, offering healthy alternatives to rodenticides. The open house takes place Sunday, April 7, noon-4 p.m. at Ojai Raptor Center’s Rehabilitation Center (370 Baldwin Rd., Ojai). A donation of $5 is suggested. For more information, call 649-6884 or visit ojairaptorcenter.org.

CUSTOM CAT ENCLOSURES: Domestic felines and rural environments don’t always mix well. With coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions roaming the nearby foothills, folks may want their critter to be an indoor-only pet. With his Cat Enclosures, Jeff Sturnick has created a way for your kitty to enjoy the sights and smells of the outdoors while staying safe from predators. “Custom designed to accentuate the style of your house or apartment, Cat Enclosures are not cat cages,” reads Sturnick’s craigslist.org description, “ … but safe and secure living spaces, play areas for your indoor cats to enjoy the out-of-doors.” To make an appointment for a free design and estimate, call Sturnick at 403-0121.