Get our newsletters

Meandering with Mutts: Gifts of the season


There’s been a scarcity of sunshine lately and today, a fall day, is no exception. Nevertheless, it’s a mild and pleasant day made all the more delightful as Noah and I are enjoying the companionship of our new pack member, Ellie.

Ellie has come to us through the efforts of a wonderful organization called Global World Animal Rescue and Protection. The mission of the folks at GWARP is to rescue and provide sanctuary to dogfighting survivors and paralyzed, disfigured, blind, abandoned, and abused animals from Azerbaijan, finding them adoptive homes.

Several weeks ago we met Ellie at JFK Airport after her long flight from Baku and, while she is still settling in, it feels as though this is where she was always meant to be; we are thrilled and blessed to have her. Ellie is a sweet and affectionate Siberian husky mix with a love of adventure and the plucky ruggedness and independent spirit typical of the husky breed. She’s a happy dog, with a tail that seldom stops wagging; it’s hard to believe that anyone would ever mistreat this lovely girl.

Our day’s outing takes us to Giving Pond and its environs in Upper Black Eddy. Walking along the towpath the lake can be glimpsed in the distance beyond a field overflowing with the tawny flowerheads of dried goldenrod. Goldenrod is a key player in the ecological community, and it can be used to sustain and enrich soil by fixing it with nitrogen. It is considered to be one of the most important plants for pollinating insects in North America, providing food for around 104 species of butterflies and moths as well as for at least 42 species of bees, for whom goldenrod is their single food source.

We turn onto a wide path leading along the southern edge of the pond where Oriental bittersweet vines are in abundance, weaving through shrubbery and winding their way up the trunks of trees. While it’s an invasive plant, bittersweet’s crimson berries with their yellow hoods nevertheless provide a vibrant contrast to the somber grays and browns of late autumn.

Ellie suddenly stops in her tracks before diving into the brush, rooting about with gusto and emerging with the rotting corpse of a mouse – quite a prize! Noah bounds over in hopes Ellie will share the bounty, because of course that’s what good sisters do. That’s when I go into buzzkill mode and demand they “leave it.” While a poor substitute indeed, I provide compensation in the form of hotdog tidbits that I have stashed in my pocket as handy training treats.

We cross a field to the edge of the pond, its surface sparkling, courtesy of the sun that has finally come out of hiding. As usual the water is teeming with bird life. Seagulls alternately float along and soar above in a dance of synchronization. In the distance geese bellow nasal honks of communication and ducks skim across the water, taking to the air.

Our time outdoors comes to a close, Noah and Ellie hopping into the back of the SUV, exhilarated by their morning jaunt and ready for rejuvenation in the form of an afternoon nap, side-by-side on the sunroom sofa. Life is good.

This holiday season may you find joy and renewal in the loving companionship of the friends, family, and animals in your life and in the wonderland of flora and fauna, which are the gifts of Mother Nature.

Cindy Woodall resides in Upper Black Eddy.

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.