July 19, 2013

Land of Saguaros

"The saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) is a large, tree-sized cactus species, which can grow to be over 20 meters (~70 ft) tall. It's native to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, the Mexican state of Sonora, and the Whipple Mountains and Imperial County areas of California." -Wikipedia.

I never thought life would bring me here. To the land of Saguaros, endless heat, epic dust stroms and unique wildlife that is fully adapted to the hard desert life. I'm not sure how Tucson originally became a town but as Rango, in one of my all-time favorite animated movies, puts it: "As long as we got water, we got ourselves a town". I'm sure the dogs are as surprised as I am to leave the leisurely lifestyle of boating and end up in a totally new environment and totally new routines once again. Just when we had two fully adapted boat dogs they need to do it again and now get used to the dangers of the desert. Instead of cool morning swims it's a morning walk at dawn, just before the blazing sun makes you sweat, being wary of the rattle snakes, coyotes, tarantulas, scorpions. You name it! And it's not just the animals and insects you need to worry about, it's the plants too. We've only been here a little while and there has been many a days when I have to pull out the tweezers after our walk to pull out cactus spikes from the dogs paws or muzzles. I hope that with time they'll learn to be more careful. It's just that the little lizards, ground squirrels and road runners are SO very interesting. Of course you need to put your nose into the hole and sniff everything, and if getting to the hole means going through a prickly pear cactus, so be it!!

Some things have gone more smoothly than others I suppose. So far our biggest issues are definitely outdoors! But what comes to being house dogs again, it seems to have gone naturally! I thought they would miss the boat and being outside all day long, but here they have actually seemed to enjoy the cooler indoor temperatures to the very hot outdoors. Maybe winter time they'd want to spend more time on the yard. Since we do have that. A yard. Not that it's exactly the kind of yard that I always dreamed of with green grass and apple trees but it's a yard nevertheless! The amount of wildlife we're able to follow is mindblowing! Many different bird species include road runners, gambel's quails, mourning doves and northern cardinals for example and we have many little critters like round taled ground squirrels and desert cottontails but we've also seen a tarantula, rattle snake, a coyote and many lizards in our very own back yard! So life is definitely not boring for me or for the dogs who spend most of they wake hours in front of the windows following the animals around :).

As fascinating as it is having all these animals around, it's also terrifying. I worry about the dogs getting bitten or myself getting stung when putting my feet into my shoes for example (scorpions like to hide in your shoes!). I heard that there is a little fence thing called snake fence which you can put below your actual fence to prevent snakes from coming. We might consider something like that if we fence an area for the dogs. As it is now, I'm outside at all times with the dogs watching them. It's very far from being in the somewhat safe landscapes of Finland where moss and peat covered forests surround beautiful little lakes and yards grow grass and trees and the biggest thing you usually need to worry about is ticks! And even the amount of ticks can be somewhat non-excistent, just depends where you're at. It's also very different from the urban setting and the rolling oak woodland hills at the Bay area or our life on the boat or the many beaches and coastal towns we visited underway.

I guess I could say me and my dogs have seen many places by now, and I honestly think Vanilla and Gin have both benefited from seeing the world. They are easy to travel with, they have learned many things and are very confident dogs. The experience shines from their eyes and I think there's many dogs out there in the world who could learn a thing or two from these guys.

Sonoran Desert. From Wikimedia.