White Deer Twins on the Riverwalk

White Deer Twins on the Riverwalk
These rare white deer twins were born this summer and have found a safe home at Dan Daniel Park and on the Riverwalk
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My name is David Hoffman. I teach English and journalism at Averett University, but I have two side interests - writing and photography. I also enjoy walking daily with my English setter, Sadie, and my wife, Elizabeth, on the Danville, Virginia, Riverwalk. As a novice to studying nature, I am fascinated by the slightest facets of the great outdoors, but most of my pictures are of birds - I don't know a lot about them, but I am learning more and enjoying taking pictures of them daily. I also take pictures of plants, other animals, and insects. All pictures posted for each day were taken on the day of my blog entry.

Leave a comment if you have the time or e-mail me at dhoffman@averett.edu


Saturday, June 26, 2010



(JUNE 26, 2010) I got out to the Riverwalk this morning at 5:45 - kinda dark; kinda early; kinda in a hurry. I was to pick up Elizabeth in Chapel Hill at 7:30, so I did a short walk (a little over a mile) before leaving the house at 6:30 to head down Highway 86.

As the result of this, I didn't take any pictures, but I had over 500 pictures from yesterday, and some of them provided the idea for today's blog entry - Sadie Pointing.

Though it was hot yesterday, Sadie was in a "working" mode - that is, she was "working" at pointing at anything that moved (including leaves falling from the trees). She pointed at bees (which I discourage), damselflies, butterflies, moths, and an occasional bird.

One blue damselfly seemed to especially intrigue her since she would get close to it, it would fly away, Sadie would step back, and the damselfly returned right to the spot where Sadie had just seen it. This happened 3-4 times before I decided we needed to move on.

Now, Sadie's pointing sessions may take as long as 5-6 minutes as she goes into her "stealth" mode - moving very slowly by gently placing one paw down while lifting another one. Yesterday, I told someone, who was watching her, that she is like "poetry in motion. SLOW MOTION." And she is.

About a year ago Sadie was pointing at a moth when two bikers came by. The two men are acquaintances of mine, and they stopped and were fascinated by Sadie's pointing and stillness.

One of the bikers said, "That's amazing!"

I said, "Yep."

He then asked, "Did you teach her to do that?"

I said, "Sure did. I got down on my hands and knees to show her how it was done."

He laughed and said, "I'll give you $20 if you will demonstrate."

I said, "Make it $40, and you've got a deal."

In actuality Sadie started pointing when she was about 8 weeks old (she's now four and a half), just a ball of white fur with not one spot on her at all. I had taken her into the back yard, and she saw a moth - instinctively, she lifted her small front left paw (she always lifts that paw), became rigid, and her tail went out - not straight out like she does now, but up at about 45 degrees.

Pointing is in her genes. That's what she does.

Several months ago we were out in a field where she had spotted a butterfly. She was rigid and concentrating on that insect. She stood that way for several minutes - paw lifted, nose pointing and tail out straight. A couple of bikers rode out into the field, and one said, "I thought that was a statue."

I said, "I'm sure she wishes she could fool birds in the same way - they would flock around her, and she would grab them." They laughed, Sadie continued to point, and they left.

I like to give her some opportunities to point during our daily walks. There are times, however, when I get impatient and will go over to the insect she is pointing at and make a movement to hurry up the activity. She won't attack a bug until it starts to move, so her rate of success is only about 1 in 100.

By the way, no insects were killed or maimed yesterday. The damselfly and moth above are healthy and flying around today - unless some other dog has been more successful than Sadie.

It was a short walk today on the Riverwalk, but a good one.

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