blog photo 65 dogs in field (2).jpgWHAT IT IS

Perhaps it was their age and life experiences that led to their pessimistic view, but both Sofia Zuniga and Bokamoso Jacobs believed only a catastrophic event or events could alter the inevitable collision between humankind’s behavior and the survival of all other species on the planet. They were starting a journey of living among many of nature’s creatures to get a better sense of what they needed to survive and thrive. To facilitate this notion, what better way to bridge this gap than to enlist the services of ‘man’s best friend’, who hopefully could provide insight to both the human world and the ‘others’ world. It was Jasper and Chuckles who were chosen to spend the summer at the Chapleau Game Preserve to help Sofia and Bokamoso with this most interesting task.


Fallen trees, swollen creeks, acres of burdock, piles of granite rocks and every weed species known to Beaver County awaited the canine athletes participating in the Olympic trials for the Pawathon.

The Olympic Pawathon is a grueling fifty mile run through harsh, unforgiving terrain. Of the seventeen entrants only the two pictured dogs finished the event. The small dog in the background led all dogs for the first forty-nine miles, but the dog in the foreground managed to overtake the little fella in the final quarter mile.


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It was an unusual sight; a large man sitting in a small jail cell with a teddy bear on his lap. Slim Clemons’s unfocused eyes peered through the thick black bars onto beige colored cement blocks, pondering how all this started.

Sniffing margaritas at the House of Blues in New Orleans most likely caused Ellie to get a little talkative. She proudly described her pageant victory, regaled the girls with stories of her trips in the limousine and spoke with great anticipation of her scholarship to University. Ellie may have also mentioned that a black velvet sack placed over her head would cause her to go unconscious for a few days.

Cricket, Sapphire and Ellie stood in a long line-up at the Registrar’s office at the University of Indianapolis. Excitement filled the air and the friendly conversation between the gathered strangers made it feel like a family reunion. As Cricket talked to Bill and Sapphire, joked with Nancy, INSECT agent Smith snuck up behind Ellie, threw a black velvet sack over her and bolted through the line-up and out a set of double doors to a waiting Graham revving up the engine of their reconstructed Honda civic. It happened  quickly; by the time Cricket and Sapphire made it to the exit, they could see the civic racing out of the parking lot, Ellie listlessly starring out the back window. Sapphire immediately thought of Slim, phoning and hoping desperately he would be in the office.

Being a man of action, Slim rushed to his customized Hummer, sped out of the parkade beneath his office tower and started driving in the direction Sapphire suggested. Slim was heading for Canada in an attempt to head off Graham and Smith.

When necessary Slim could drive non-stop for hours, days even. It was this tenacity that allowed Slim to overtake Graham and Smith along Hwy 64 in Northern Ontario. Slim loved the negotiation, the banter back and forth, the arm- twisting and the monumental threats of business deals he won and lost over the years. This negotiation would be no different, and as he drove the Hummer south on Hwy 64 towards an oncoming Honda Civic containing Graham and Smith, Slim knew he, and his machine would win the fight; it was just a matter of time before the Honda civic would pull over to avoid a collision.

Slim was not impressed with Graham’s driving, the agent had a full three seconds to play with before slamming hard on the brakes and wheeling recklessly to the right, hitting the soft gravel shoulder and coming to rest in a swampy pond beside the road.

Slim got out of the Hummer, sized up Graham and Smith in the front seats and determined they were more or less ok. He grabbed Ellie from the back seat and raised his arms as six police officers trained their service revolvers on the two.







Every Monday morning five crisp Benjamin Franklins arrive in Davey Doucet’s mailbox. The bills come from a lawyer’s office in Halifax and the lawyer said attorney-client privilege did not allow him to divulge any information to Davey.   So, Davey’s anonymous five hundred dollars a week now bank-rolls his private investigation business.

He’s a busy lad, criss-crossing Canada and the United States trying to solve some interesting mysteries. A few weeks ago, Davey was up by Willis Mountain near the scene of a fatal car accident involving a former employee of the Nova Scotia Lands and Forests Department. The employee was the province’s herbicide specialist back in the 1980’s and his name came up in conversations he has with department officials and students from Dalhousie University. Davey’s interest in the accident scene bore fruit when, as he was walking along the highway where the accident occurred, a swan, swimming along a roadside pond, began pecking at a piece of metal along the ponds edge.

The piece of metal turned out to be a Louisiana license plate which Davey discovered belonged to a truck leasing company out of New Orleans. The plate belonged to a truck leased the same week as the horrific accident to one Tiny LeBlanc.


One of Sapphire’s great joys in life is to watch Cricket open his birthday present. First, he eyes it up from a distance, strolls excitedly to the table it sits on, picks it up and gently shakes it, looking for clues of what might be inside the box. Finally, the paper is ripped off and, in this case, he admires the drone inside.

The drone was a great idea and travelled with Cricket and Sapphire on there many adventures. In fact, it finally solved the mystery of whether a swan on Lake Temiskaming orders seagulls to their daily destinations in the towns surrounding the lake. Cricket’s drone took this photo of the swan on the north shore of Wabi Bay just as the last of the seagulls took off for nearby Temiskaming Shores.




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Frank James gave a vague, somewhat fragmented speech to his colleagues at the Sigmas Conference and Event Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The topic, “Entomology – Its Future in the Digital Age”, didn’t really resonate with James. What he wanted to do is head for Beaver County to check out a stone trestle that was the hot topic of conversation back at the University of Missouri.

James arrived early in the morning on a bright July day; all was quiet around the trestle except for a single butterfly darting in and out of the shaded area below the trestle. James retrieved a butterfly net from the back of his car, followed the butterfly under the trestle and just as he was about to capture his prey, he suddenly found himself thrown several feet away from the trestle. He attempted many times to walk through, to walk around, to walk over but always ended up several feet away on his butt watching the dancing butterfly.


Smith was assigned to drive Melina Schulz from the hospital to the INSECT compound in Northern Ontario, where a combination of work and rest awaited her. The six- week stay in hospital resulted in a major backlog of her workload and Schulz was determined to clear the decks in the next few weeks.

As soon as they pulled out of the hospital parking lot, a butterfly perched itself on the hood of the car and refused every attempt to dislodge it. Speeds in excess of 100 mph, aggressive braking and violent swerving did not remove the insect. Finally, Smith got out of the car to swat the intruder, but it flew off, only to return when Smith was buckled back into his seat. The three- hour trip turned out to be a stare-down between the butterfly and Smith and Schulz.




WHAT IT blog photo 62 Bruce Penn..JPGWHAT IT IS

Cricket and Sapphire chose beautiful Cape Breton Island to vacation away a couple of weeks in late June.  They biked part of the Cabot Trail, visited a couple of Provincial Parks and hiked some random forested areas near Lake Bras d’Or.

One morning they were walking through a red pine plantation when they came across a group of young women from Dalhousie University. The students were in a very excited state because they had just had a fascinating conversation with a young handsome private investigator who was very interested in their work at the plantation, particularly their discovery of the herbicide 2,4,5T in the local rabbit population.


Bookings for Miles Hobbson’s speaking engagements were robust, the crowds at the venues overflowed out the door and standing ovations kept Hobbson late into the night. All of this this pleased him to no end, but he also knew the time for talk couldn’t go on forever.

Hobbson had a place for quiet reflection, a place where he’d ask the difficult questions and more often than not find the difficult answers. Should he run for political office? Should he grow his grassroots movement and mentor other like-minded individuals to expand the cause? While sunning himself on a rockface, Hobbson saw a small creature swinging from one tree branch to another. Jumping to his feet, Hobbson determined the creature was indeed a teddy bear and began following it until he came upon a family of beavers gathering aspen branches at a small pond.

He admired the busy beavers as they gathered branches, slid into a fast-moving stream and rode swiftly over a waterfall to their beaver house. “B E A V E R  F A L L S…I’ll run for mayor.”






blog photo 61 FOX.JPGWHAT IT IS

With her Beaver aircraft stored away for the winter, Samantha Gallant was patiently waiting for some parts to arrive, so she could get the Cessna 182 ready to begin contract work for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Every autumn, Samantha was responsible for dropping rabies vaccines into known red fox territories around the province. This year she was vaccinating red foxes in the Chapleau Game Preserve.

Strange occurrences can often be seen out of a cockpit window, but what Samantha saw on her last day on the job was truly remarkable. Her first passover required a second, so she banked the aircraft around for a second look. A horse, a fox, three chipmunks, a man and a woman were sitting around a huge bonfire in a clearing in the middle of the forest.


Mutt Jefferson was just past Petawawa when he saw a woman running frantically back and forth beside her car. By the time he got his big rig safely to the side of the road, she was already in front of him, screaming that her dog Muffin escaped from her car and was heading for the bush.

Mutt didn’t hesitate, he ignored the ‘DO NOT ENTER’ signs, hopped the chain-link fence and ventured into the woods to rescue Muffin. It took Mutt only a few minutes to realize that he was on an artillery firing range and he better find the dog soon or they both would be toast. The bush was thick and progress slow when without warning an artillery shell burst above him, shearing off the top of a pine tree sending it crashing to the ground. Mutt immediately saw the small red fox, badly mangled by the limbs of the tree.

A smiling, grateful lady greeted Mutt at the side of the road as he handed over a disheveled Muffin. “What will you do with the fox?” Mutt just grinned.  Visions of an animal shelter swirled in his head.







blog photo 60 sandhill craneWHAT IT IS

Cricket and Sapphire love the summer drive along Highway 17 north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Batchawana Bay, Pancake Bay and Montreal River Harbour are just some of their favorite places along the route. During one trip near Lake Superior Provincial Park, Sapphire spotted a Sandhill Crane in a field. As she approached to take a photo, it seemed obvious to her the crane was not only in a bad mood but also in some distress. Blessed with a wonderful singing voice, a few bars of Willie P. Bennett’s Driftin Snow calmed the bird down and after cutting the Plot 82 tag from it’s leg, brought the bird to Mutt Jefferson’s rehab center a few miles back down the highway.


Mildred was nervously pulling at her tail feathers as the full cast was mulling around the pond, taking up their positions. Things were not going well for Mildred, in addition to being investigated by two prestigious organizations, Mildred knew a lack of discipline on the part of the actors could jeopardize opening night, some six weeks away.

She decided on the unthinkable. Hyper disciplinarian ‘THE CRANE,’ was flying in from Hawk Junction, Ontario and was expected with the hour.