Darwin's Gentle Observation

Photos by Mark Renz

Every parent tries to do the best job possible raising their kids.
So it is also with my faithful companion Darwin.
In exposing him to the wild, I want him to learn about nature
gently and respectfully. So far, he has proved himself
a quick learner and in many ways is self-taught.

The other evening, my little lad spotted a yellow-bellied slider
slowly meandering through a dried-out freshwater marsh
in search of another wet habitat. I was proud of my boy as he
cautiously approached the hardshell and explored it calmly
and gently with his nose as much as his eyes.

Eventually Darwin tried to make friends. But ever the
cautious one, his doggie act of friendship was to lick
the air well above the turtle -- a behavior I've seen
him make to cows and watched as the boviners reciprocated.
(See last photo at bottom for such an interaction.)
Not wanting to delay the yeller belly,
we both stepped back and allowed it to continue on its way.

The cow below is one of several who have
responded to Darwin's gentle nature by giving him a wet one.