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Hitchhiking on Animals
Our hard-headed bird dog, Willis Wimberly, a.k.a. Willie, has been coming back from his romps with the worst stickers in his ears and feathers. Everything is going to seed and many plants use animals as a way to distribute their genetic progeny. Almost every day, I have to get out the haircut scissors and with the utmost care try to de-sticker him. Although Willie has already been decommissioned, he is very nervous when we have to work on his rear end!
Deer have such sleek coats that they wouldn’t do much good at carrying those hitchhikers around. I was wondering what animals were here when that method of dispersal evolved and, duh, it hit me. Bears and bison have the perfect coats for things to get stuck in and carried around for miles and miles and miles. And, of course, we used to have those animals all over the Southeast. As you know from my “No pig” story, bears are still common in the mountains, and about twenty years ago my cousins in Columbia had one near their home on Shady Lane.
Who else could be picking up hitchhikers? Bobcats have a band of ruff around their neck. Ten years ago, my brother gave me a very gently used red car, since I needed a reliable way to get to my new Extension job in Sumter. We were all together at Pawleys Island for New Year’s when he presented me with the keys! The children were so excited and immediately asked that I keep the trunk free of road kill. Sadly, for them, but not for me, on the return trip we saw an absolutely immaculate fresh bobcat carcass, which immediately went into the trunk and then into the deep freezer. What happened to that carcass is another story.