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Where We Left Off:
In a shocking development, we discovered some evidence that at least one female werewolf was brought from New York and released in our neighborhood.
It was annoying trying to plan our adventures when January weather could not decide what it wanted to be. There were plenty of days that faked me out too. All bright and sunny, but then I would get out and be stricken by bitter cold winds. Don’t believe the hype about those so-called texting gloves either. I have two pairs and neither of them will operate my phone when I’m wearing them to keep warm. I usually suck it up and have one cold hand to hold onto the peanut can, Gus’ leash, and the phone while the other hand can be in a pocket. The 27th was such a day, but I kept Gus out for as long as I could tolerate since he was focused on exploring some old terrain.
Winter is definite adventuring season. People keep their dogs inside. We can see for miles through the bare trees. Winter birds are busy and hyperactive. Then there’s Gus and his Super Smeller — hard at work like a bloodhound with his nose to the ground as he follows the burrowing rodents.
My fingers were hurting from the cold, but Gus veered into the Boulevard Trail. With the shrubbery collapsed over itself from dead weight, I have less anxiety unhooking Gus from his leash and letting him hunt off-trail since I could see him almost all the time.
This little bugger has managed to remove four or five jingle bells from his harness. I don’t know how he manages to do that either. The Grumpy Old Man even gave us a sturdy keyring for the last bell and he came back to me with the bell itself missing, the ring still in place on his harness. I’ve continued to put his Crime Scene collar on despite the harness because of its jingle bell. I can’t remember my exact reaction when he came back and I noticed the bell gone again. Probably, “Really, Gus? How did you do it?” or “Ughhhhh.” Maybe all of that.
It had been quite a long time since Gus and I ventured all the way to the end of the Boulevard Trail. Several months at least. The last time we were there, it was hard to pass through to the pretty overlook site which is behind houses on a steep sloping hill (their yard maintenance must be a bitch). Even though it feels awkward being at the edge of other people’s backyards when I don’t know them personally, I try to take long deep breaths and appreciate the scene of the landscape. Snap off a couple photos for my memories. Then I usually have to coax Gus to leave. He desperately wants to explore those backyards.
Peculiar Evidence Discovered:
On the 27th however, Gus was ready to depart the overlook when I noticed a tuft of white fur on the ground. I picked it up and bagged it for evidence. Then a few feet away I saw a spread with a lot of hair and then another. There was so much tricolor hair! I bagged all that I could and caught up with Gus on the trails. He thought he was so funny picking up speed every time I bent down to grab the leash dragging behind him.
I followed him to the L2 Trail and he took a moment to pause on one of my favorite mossy rocks. I let him inspect the evidence before trotting down the trail with him protesting to be unhooked again so he could continue exploring.
Eventually he gave in and jogged all the way back towards the Grumpy Old Man’s hangar. Gus was willing to walk straight home at the suggestion of lunch.
Hair vs. Fur:
While Gus ate his lunch, I showed off the incredible find to the other humans and Oliver. Ollie couldn’t wait to give the fur a closer inspection. While researching this, I asked Ollie a question that has been bothering me based on things I’ve heard from people with animal allergies: Is there really a difference between “hair” and “fur” which is the argument I’ve heard from people about why they can only have specific breeds as pets?
The professor had heard this argument as well, but it turns out that it’s false. Hair and fur are the same things and both made from keratin like nails and hooves. The only hair type which would not be considered part of the fur is whiskers. Whiskers serve a different function.
“Whiskers, although hair, are categorically not fur. Whiskers have a few differences, including that they tend to be longer and stiffer (but this is not always the case), and they’re important sensory organs. “Every follicle has a certain amount of innervation,” MacPhee explains. The way it works for whiskers is that they have mechanoreceptors, which means that when the whisker is disturbed by hitting an object, a signal is immediately sent back to the brain and analyzed there. Which is why whiskers are utilized by all kinds of mammals as a sensory apparatus in their environment.” Hutchinson, Sean. “What’s the Difference Between Hair and Fur?” Mental Floss, Pro Sportority, 31 Oct. 2014, www.mentalfloss.com/article/58251/whats-difference-between-hair-and-fur.
Even though you may refer to someone’s beard playfully calling it whiskers, it’s scientifically not accurate. There’s also no difference based on how long the hair grows. It’s another myth busted. Hair length is determined by genetics. Someone will alopecia doesn’t have to shave their bald spots. They simply have the genetics that dictate there’s no hair in that spot.
“Ollie, what about these claims people who have allergies that they can only own certain breeds of dogs or cats? What’s that about?”
“Great question, human. Even the Obamas needed a low-allergen dog because of Malia’s allergies, so they chose Portuguese Water Dog, Bo. It’s not about the hair at all. It’s about a protein found in dander, saliva, and urine.”
Oliver presented me with this information from the website, thehappypuppysite.com states:
“These proteins are so small that as dander is shed, and urine and saliva dry, they easily become airborne, where they are inhaled by humans.” Holloway, Sarah. “Hypoallergenic Dogs – The Facts About Non-Shedding Breeds.” The Happy Puppy Site, Red Cat Media Ltd, 20 Nov. 2018, thehappypuppysite.com/hypoallergenic-dogs/.
And from PetMD:
“Some feline breeds exist that are considered low allergy or hypoallergenic cats. This is because they produce fewer allergens than others. Cats do produce pet dander, a common allergen, but the culprit for the estimated 10 percent of the population who are allergic to cats may be a protein, Fel d 1, that is present in cat saliva.” PetMD, PetMD. “Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds.” PetMD, 14 June 2018, www.petmd.com/cat/wellness/evr_ct_hypoallergenic_cat_breeds.
What’s interesting is that thehappypuppysite cites a study which found that there was no difference in the amount of Can f 1 protein in the houses with hypoallergenic dogs versus those with other dogs. The site does explain that the hypoallergenic breeds are still not exactly a myth because there is also the Can f 2 and ablumin to consider.
“There are no breeds of dog which can honestly be described as hypoallergenic.” – thehappypuppysite
The reason all of this became a subject of the research is because the large sample of fur I found on the ground doesn’t look like it has the roots of the hair. In fact, to the naked eye, the ends that would have been on the body look like they were cleanly cut; whereas the opposite ends tape to a point (a reason many artists prefer paintbrushes made of natural hair like sable).
It made me wonder if this clean cut clumping naturally comes out of the larger mammals like Jersey devil-deer, white-tailed deer, or foxes. It does appear to be normal shedding in this particular case since no blood was found on the samples or on the ground where they were found.
Are the animals shedding too early? At the time of discovery, we hadn’t even passed Groundhog Day yet. It’s felt cold outside, but the temperatures have been varying from 19-55F this winter. I don’t think we ever hit 0 or below 0, which is unusual. I can distinctly remember being so cold that I wanted to cry, especially when I lived alone with Caico and had to keep heat in only one room of the apartment for budget reasons (I baked a lot in those days to warm up the kitchen).
Oliver believes that we’ve had another season too warm than it should be which has affected the wildlife of the area. They’re shedding early. We were left wondering if this will eventually affect their breeding seasons too.
Case Status: Closed