You are here: home   Heard Around the West   Bear-fighting poodles and Muslim dust storms
  • This article by Betsy Marston originally appeared in the Aug 25, 2011 issue of High Country News.
  • To read the full article, you must login or subscribe.
Please enter your email address to begin:

Follow Us
Follow us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Follow our RSS feeds!
Topic: Culture & Communities     Department: Heard Around the West     Comments: 0


Bear-fighting poodles and Muslim dust storms

News: Aug 25, 2011
by Betsy Marston


Size mattered not a whit during a backyard encounter in the town of Kirkland, in northwest Washington, that pitted a "yapping teacup poodle" against a 200-pound black bear, reports The Week magazine. The tiny dog acted so ferocious that the bear climbed a tree, leaped into an adjoining yard and hightailed it back to the woods. 

And in Everett, Wash., ferocious animals confront the police department every time a uniformed officer tries to leave headquarters and walk to a cruiser. Out of the sky swirls a flock of birds -- of the sort known collectively, and in this case rather aptly, as "a murder of crows" -- which dive-bomb police officers, attacking like "velociraptors," as one beleaguered cop told the Everett Herald. It didn't help matters when one officer used his siren in an attempt to scare off the crows; the birds retaliated by littering his cruiser with droppings, reports Readers who commented offered conflicting advice. One urged the police to just blow the corvids away with a 12-gauge shotgun; another advised a more conciliatory approach. Leave a daily "food offering," "talonshawks" suggested: "Try to work with them, not against them, as you won't win against them." 

In Pullman, Wash., however, all is amity between at least one wild creature and humans. Thanks to doctors at Washington State University's veterinary hospital, a 12-year-old African tortoise is walking again -- on three legs and a caster-style wheel. The 23-pound tortoise had to have one of its front legs amputated and would have been one lopsided creature without some kind of prosthesis. So doctors fitted out the tortoise with the smoothly turning wheel, using epoxy to attach it, reports the Billings Gazette. Gamera, the tortoise, can now plod his way with ease over grass, "is particularly good at moving toward food, and has gained three pounds since the wheel was attached." 


As if back-to-back giant dust storms weren't bad enough for Phoenix residents during early July, they then had to put up with what some people decried as a Muslim word -- "haboob" -- to describe the mile-high sandstorms pushed by 60 mile-per-hour-winds. "Haboob? English, please!" complained one resident on the Weather Channel's Facebook page. Another commenter was suspicious: "The current preference for Arabic in meteorology is curious." Yet calling a sandstorm a haboob is nothing new, says "The Arizona Department of Transportation's website has an entire section on haboobs -- a section that dates back to at least late 2005." Whatever anybody labels them, the roiling clouds of dirt halted air traffic for a while, knocked out electricity, turned day into dusk, and left lots of people coughing, reports The New York Times. The haboobs were caused by drought and severe thunderstorms that agitated the air. By the way, those summer rainstorms may also have a Middle Eastern connection. Locals usually call them "monsoons," a word that some dictionaries link to the Arabic "mausim," meaning "weather." 

There is 1 more page in this article...

Introductory Offer - Save 20%

Print with digital OR digital only

From our friends

Quality Reporting is Not Free!

"I subscribed to HCN for a number of years, loved every issue...I stopped subscribing because my work load escalated. It was ok the first few months but after six months I was regretting the decision...the relevance of HCN did not diminish. I continued to look at the enticing titles of articles in the online newsletter but couldn't read enough to satisfy the craving. So I'm back. I also kicked in another 50 bucks as a personal reminder that quality reporting is not free."

Robert E. Hall, Washington D.C.

HCN in the outhouses of the West

From my Alaska trip: I flew into a small town that is not reachable by road, then hopped on a motorboat and drove across lakes and rivers for 2.5 hours to reach the scientists' camp way out in the boondocks -- out there they have a few rough cabins and a generator that makes electricity only in the evening and two outhouses -- and lo and behold, for reading material in the outhouses they have issues of the Economist magazines and HCN -- amazing to discover HCN readers way out there!

Ray Ring, HCN Senior Editor

Dinosaur fans

THANKS for splendid, challenging, exciting work, from two dinosaurs among your countless fans.

-- Brad and Zita Hosmer

Email Newsletter

The West in your Inbox

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Follow our RSS feeds!
  1. Idaho’s sewer system is the Snake River | As Big Ag flourishes, this massive waterway suffer...
  2. Closure of federal sheep facility would be a victory for grizzlies |
  3. The Latest: Wild Mexican wolf pups born in Sierra Madre | The species still struggles on both sides of the b...
  4. Summer swimming in a Washington lake | A writer takes the plunge in frigid water.
  5. Colorado water users gird for first statewide plan |
  1. The death of backpacking? | Younger people don’t seem interested in this out...
  2. Idaho’s sewer system is the Snake River | As Big Ag flourishes, this massive waterway suffer...
  3. A graceful gazelle becomes a pest | Inrroducing an African gazelle called the oryx for...
  4. Illegal immigrants take jobs from Americans | A native-born New Mexico Hispanic points out that ...
  5. Plains sense | Ten years after Frank and Deborah Popper first pro...
HCN Classifieds
Subscriber Alert
More from Culture & Communities
Metamorphosis in Winnemucca Review of ‘The Days of Anna Madrigal’ by Armistead Maupin
An award, and a whole lot of visitors Cally Carswell wins a Society of Environmental Journalists award; visitors come to call.
George Harrison’s tree is killed by beetles, and more Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.
All Culture & Communities
© 2014 High Country News, all rights reserved. | privacy policy | terms of use | powered by Plone