Loon IQ?

_T6C1141, loon, beautiful

A peaceful moment shared from a lonely beach.

What do a dog, IQ and a loon have in common? It’s a bit of an odd tale. (And I couldn’t resist retelling this story with a bias that runs the risk of offending an increasingly large demographic of pet owners. I’m betting on their sense of humour!)

Here I was at a beautiful national park back in June before the influx of visitors. That meant I had a secluded beach area all to myself. There was just a loon meandering around the lake. It was a special moment!

I noticed the loon seemed to be heading in my direction so I dug out my camera gear and watched it swim nonchalantly in my direction. I could feel my excitement building. It was short lived.

_T6C1123, loon

Occasional lapses into shyness.

My peaceful moment was  disturbed by two women driving up beside me and asking if I had a dog. It seemed like a ridiculous question since there was no dog in sight. I said, “No,” without looking up from my camera. I was focused on the loon.

Then she asked if I minded if she let the dog loose. Before I could finish my sentence about not disturbing the loon, the dog was running free without a leash which is prohibited in a national park. I was grateful they at least headed in the opposite direction.

The loon continued to swim closer and I enjoyed its rare beauty. It swam past me and I picked up my tripod and camera, and walked to the furthest spot away from them. I should have anticipated they would follow me.

The dog came first and started barking. The owner yelled instructions at “Tonto” but the way she did it raised serious doubts whether her admonitions would have any influence on her pet’s behaviour. The dog ignored her completely.

Fairly quickly, the relatively large dog was growling at me and acting aggressive. I didn’t know what to do so I stopped.

Meanwhile the hapless owner was trundling towards us, loudly proclaiming that her dog never barks – all evidence to the contrary. If this somehow was meant to be reassuring, it ended up having the opposite effect. Would the next declaration be that Tonto never bites anyone? At least until now.

The dog circled around me growling and I was worried it would attack. A tripod and a camera are useful tools but not particularly effective weapons against a dog attack. Eventually the woman arrived yelling more instructions that were completely disregarded. The dog finally took off. I quickly left without receiving so much as a mild apology from the owner, though by then it didn’t surprise me.

I relayed this story to a responsible dog owner who quickly put it all in perspective – occasionally dogs and owners share an IQ.

I am curious to know what you might have done … or what I should do in future encounters like this.

_T6C1119, loon, beak open

Can you hear it?

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Latest Comments

  1. LB says:

    No only an IQ problem … this is a courtesy / rudeness problem! Love the loon shots! I miss hearing those calls (formerly an Vermont resident)

    Like

  2. Kodiak My Little Grizzly says:

    I might have said “lady if you don’t call your dog back and get it on a leash I might just have to call my brother over here. He’s a mighty sharp shooter!” If that didn’t work maybe use the tripod to threaten the dog and scare it more. I don’t know. I’d say you did quite well and still got some awesome loon shots. Loons are my favorite birds. We have them all the time in MN and WI!

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Glad you like the the loons (much more fun talking about them than the lady though you have some creative ideas). They are such a remarkable bird and to hear them calling to each other on a pristine lake is simply priceless!

      Like

  3. Mandy says:

    My response to the dog? Be more aggressive than it, which may be easier for me to say coming off a farm where I am used to yelling at dogs. Dog problem aside, I thought the patterns and colourings in the loon were wonderful. What a magnificent bird.

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      The loon was one of my favourite birds just from hearing the call and even more so when I saw how beautiful it was. It always reminds me of fresh, clear northern lakes where they tend to live.

      Like

  4. India Heritage Sites says:

    Great captures. definitely, loon and beach both looking calm and delightful. dog has a interesting character in the story.

    Like

  5. derekevens says:

    I love the images Lyle, very well done given the circumstances. My first glimpse of one of these, thanks for sharing. Oh well written story by the way.

    Like

  6. doriswamyganesh says:

    Dear lyle,People the world over have really lost the value of appreciating wild life or what is left of it.Today India is poorer with the depleting stock of tigers, lions, elephants the famous Indian rhinocerous, black bucks ,to name a few this country is known for.I do not know about the loon and this is the first time i am hearing and seeing its pictures.They do look very pretty.Do they belong to the swan family? regards, Ganesh.

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      I am pleased to introduce you to new bird – it is one of my favourites. While it looks good, my favourite part is its wailing call that echoes across beautiful northern lakes. Check out the sound here http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/common_loon/sounds. The loons are a group of aquatic birds found in many parts of North America and northern Eurasia and are members of the Gaviidae family. It is quite different than a swan.

      Like

  7. zannyro says:

    You did exactly the right thing…the same thing happened to me in Florida…except that the owners slowly walked toward me ‘blowing a whistle’…apparently to entertain themselves as it had no effect whatsoever on the dog…when they got close enough I said “dogs are supposed to be leashed…her response….lots of screaming and vulgar language…I just yelled back..”ON A LEASH” and kept marching as far away from them as I could get. You chose the better response!

    Like

  8. owenslaterphotography says:

    Great photos given the circumstances!

    The only way an irresponsible dog owner like this will ever change their behaviour is if they have enough incentive to do so! A call to a dispatch (403-762-1470) would have resulted in a warden coming out immediately to hopefully catch them in the act and resulted in a nice fine under the National Parks Act. Taking down the license plate and getting photographic evidence of the people and the off leash dog will give the warden a chance at catching them later.

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Thanks. As usual, you have good advice for the situation. The national park was actually in SK but I’m sure the same principles apply. Typically incentive plans help to modify behaviour!

      Like

  9. Deb W. Trotter says:

    I’m glad the folderol didn’t keep you from getting some lovely pictures of the loon, which, while safer in the water and in possession of wings, was probably not at all happy with the barking. Not being a dog person, I can offer no advice on the situation you describe, but you have my sympathies!!

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Thanks. I was pleased with what I got. Surprisingly the loon didn’t seem much fazed by it all but it was a ways out on the water so it must have felt secure. Thanks for the sympathy but I survived!

      Like

  10. Phil Lanoue says:

    See this is where alligators can come in very handy, they can really help keep down the annoying dog population.
    Plus alligators are so quiet and well mannered as opposed to most dogs (and their owners).
    Don’t get me started on dogs on the beach… 😦

    Like

  11. dweezer19 says:

    Bummer. Maybe you should try Florida. Its a very dog friendly place, but being as such, they have a lot of understood rules for responsible integration. Im not a big fan of dogs in my face while trying to enjoy my Einstein Bros special Sunday treat bagel, but if it is merely lazing in the shade with doleful “gimme” eyes, Im good with it. We have had dogs and not. For now Im good with the not because I take it as seriously as I did raising my four sons. Your pet is a definitely reflection on your own values. Better luck next time. At least it didnt go after the unsuspecting loon.

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      I keep seeing lots of amazing pictures from Florida so it is tempting to check it out. Responsible integration sounds like a good way to live peacefully together. I find it interesting that you took dog ownership as seriously as raising sons. The loon was safe and I focused on it to enjoy the moment so the important things were accomplished.

      Like

      • dweezer19 says:

        You would def love the photo ops. I lived in Lake Mary, near Orlando, and the Seminole Trail ran behind my house. Every afternoon I walked for several miles where, just behind neighborhoods, I saw large tortoises, hawks, heron, etc, etc. of course I was in heaven. 🙂
        Well, I wasn’t setting aside a college fund for our dog; but we realize that there was a lot of responsibility involved. The other side of that coin is that we have observed people whose children could use the benefit of at least a good animal trainer.haha. Glad you got your shots. They are great.

        Like

        • lylekrahn says:

          Definitely sounds like an awesome place. If you look hard enough there is usually something to photograph in most places but some locales just seem to have it all. Glad you like the shots.

          Like

  12. niasunset says:

    amazing moments you captured, fascinated me. Thank you, love, nia

    Like

  13. choppy123 says:

    Beautiful pics as always, l have a large bouncy dog and always place him on the leash when people are around because I might love him but lots of people dislike or are scared of dogs so it is called responsible dog ownership…. it frustrates me bad pet ownership.

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Thanks. No question that people view animals from many perspectives. I think the trouble begins when some owners can’t see other people’s perspectives. Too bad they weren’t all like you.

      Like

  14. Gunta says:

    I’ll go with gimpet’s suggestion. Also agree that it’s not the dog’s IQ in question. Definitely the owner’s. If you can’t control your dog, you shouldn’t have one, but you can’t fix stupid (owners, not so much dogs).

    Like

  15. artsifrtsy says:

    First off – gorgeous set, nothing better than reflection on blue water. I am a pet owner and have had the misfortune of living near people who share that woman’s attitude, except they would never ask – I have dealt with damage and injury from their roaming dogs for years. One thing I know is that I am the only one who thinks my pups are irresistible. I love hiking with my doodle off leash, but would never even think of it in a national park or a public trail. Dumber than a loon for sure!

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Thanks. It is so much nicer to have blue water than grey. Now how come I never encounter you when I’m out in my travels or watching a loon? Oh yes, wrong country. Too bad about all the damage from roaming dogs. The capacity to look at things from other people’s perspectives is sometimes an illusive art. I think the loon is becoming my standard for reasonable behaviour.

      Like

      • artsifrtsy says:

        You would think on all these park shoots we would run into each other. I would love to get back to Yellowstone to shoot – haven’t been there in ages. The loon is a fine standard indeed.

        Like

  16. Mike Powell says:

    Beautiful shots of the loon, Lyle. There’s not too much to say about the situation with the dog–it’s an unfortunately reality that we have to put up with all kinds of distraction, two-legged as well as four-legged, as we seek to take our images of wildlife. All you can do is smile on the outside and ignore the temptation for a negative response, no matter how much they deserve it.

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Thanks. You’re right about the all legged distractions – the capacity to focus helps a lot to get good shots. Once again I am reminded of the luxury I have had of being alone with wildlife so many times or in the company of other photographers. Your comments are consistent with what I know of your nice personality. I suppose any response needs to be evaluated against the objective in the situation.

      Like

  17. gimpet says:

    “Lady, Im a lawyer and Im armed with a camera. Pick up your pet’s leash and get him under control now.”

    Like

  18. Stephen G. Hipperson says:

    Nice pics.
    Not sure what I would have done in the same situation – though I’ve been had similar contacts, one time I was on the empty foreshore of a beach, tripod setup, kneeling trying to get a shot of a small wader, only to have a lady dog walker enter the top of the beach, see me, let her dog off, and then walk in my direction and on reaching me ask ‘Hello, what are you doing?’ – I nearly said, ‘Watching the bird I was photographing fly away!’ but I’m much too polite……. what can you do? Unfortunately, we don’t demand that pet owners have an IQ test before they’re allowed to keep their pets.

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Thanks. The part of your story that makes me cringe is when she sees you and then lets the dog loose. Politeness definitely gets in the way of cheeky responses in those situations! I’ve bitten off a few myself but it gets harder. Perhaps I need to think of clever responses before it happens. A pet owners IQ test is an interesting fantasy.

      Like

  19. Sheldon says:

    Let me say that it no way is this the fault of the dog, animals are not suppost to be smarter than their owners..
    I have seen every species of dog that is well trained by responsible owners and they are all intelligent. If the question is IQ it is the IQ of the owner that should be questioned..

    As far as what to do next time, my suggestion is carry a can of compressed air one good shot of that will send Dog and/or Cat in the opposite direction, without hurting them…The better question is what to do with brainless owners?

    Once again Lyle excellent shots and a great story….

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Thanks. The sad part is the dogs with poor owners never really have much of chance. I suppose it turns out to be difficult to trade owners!

      The compressed air is a good idea – I hadn’t thot of that.

      Like

  20. meganorlowskirussell says:

    There are leash laws for a reason. The dogs could have attacked or been attacked by wildlife. The dog owner was an idiot.

    Like

  21. Honie Briggs says:

    Lyle, this encounter does not surprise me at all. Oblivious pet “parents” are no different than oblivious people parents. Inconsiderate, ignorant people letting their dogs off leash in public spaces (and private spaces) don’t have the sense God gave a loon. Unfortunately, this behavior is often dismissed in the name of tolerance. Like if you don’t want your leg humped by a Labradoodle you must hate animals. The number of people who bring their pets on vacation, barking or growling because they are muzzled seems to be increasing. While on the interior island tour of Catalina recently, we had to endure someone’s darling pet a bit too close for comfort. I don’t know what you could have done differently in this situation. Maybe say, “Yeah, I have a dog. He’s bigger and smarter than yours so beat it, lady.”

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      I certainly enjoyed that response. I’m guessing the whole encounter might have taken on a different flavour if you would have been there! I must find other uses for the expression, “the sense God gave a loon.” I am completely amazed at the sacrifices people put up with to take their pets on vacation and other places. I’m also amazed at how some (not generalizing) people can be so oblivious to their impact on others, yet I’m guessing it would be a whole different equation if the roles were reversed.

      Like

  22. Colline says:

    The pictures of the loon reflect tranquility. What airy your own sense of tranquility was disturbed by an ill disciplined dog and owner.

    Like

  23. melodylowes says:

    I love the clarity and precision of these loon shots – so funny to think that they were acquired under duress of an unusual specimen. There is a reason for the rules at parks, is all I have to say….

    Like

    • lylekrahn says:

      Thanks. I was so pleased and surprised the loon swam towards me. I also had to chuckle that the photo is so different than the story I told about it. I can’t imagine why they have those park rules:)

      Like

  24. Mind Margins says:

    I have two large dogs and would first, never take them to a national park, and two, never let them off leash. Dogs are not allowed on the trails either, for a reason. Many dog owners are truly clueless. Even walking my dogs, I run across many owners whose dogs act aggressively towards mine and the owners have no idea how to control them.

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