Reflections

LEON RAISES HACKLES

We were touched by the story, "Dogs Who Have Known Us," in the June issue.

We would like to applaud James D. Ritchie and his family for taking good care of Leon. Anyone who would put a pet out on a highway because they got tired of him has no respect for life of any kind.

We're sure Leon was happier with the Ritchie family than with the people who had put him out.

Joan and James Rogers, Maryland Heights

We live in a rural area on the outskirts of Kansas City and would like to let these dog dumpers know what really happens to their dogs when they dispose of them.

The dogs wander from house to house, being chased away. Many farmers end up taking the most merciful route and put a bullet through the dog's head. That sounds brutal, but it's better than the dog starving to death - and much better than dumping!

Dogs live 12-14 years and need a lot of food, attention and veterinary care during their lifetimes. Please think about the long-term picture the next time you see a cute puppy.

Cheryl Chandler, Holt

Here's a message from me and my country neighbors to those who would dump their unwanted pets on us: Don't.

The story of a large black German shepherd illustrates what happens to abandoned pets. The dog's sides were drawn with hunger. She was chasing calves. A neighbor lost chickens and turkeys to her. When we finally shot her, she was loaded with ticks and her paw was cut. She died in pain, hungry and unloved.

Anyone who thinks that dumping a pet is humane should remember the black dog.

Jessie King, Pomona

Your article, "Dogs Who Have Known Us," touched my heart.

My dog, Bozo, was a stray. He came to our house one Thanksgiving Day. He was very skinny, and we gave him leftover turkey and dressing. He made a permanent residence at our house. I did not mind because I had become very attached to him.

Bozo passed away recently during a storm, but I am glad to have had the chance to have his company.

Lori Sitzes, Arcadia

GOOD NEIGHBORS

Congratulations to Dennis Figg for the best article I have ever seen on endangered species. It should help people understand why being neighborly to species in trouble really means better living for everyone.

Few people really understand bats, but who could not agree with the logic of the folks near Lebanon who " ... came to like the idea of managing their own nightly bug patrol unit"? Thanks for a fine piece of writing.

Jerry D. Vineyard, Deputy State Geologist, Rolla

UNUSUAL HUES

Jim Low's article on amelanism ("Pale by Comparison," June) reminded me of a fox that came through our pasture this year. It had black face, legs and tail. Its back was ivory with a slight tint of orange-yellow on the tips of its hair. It was large. About 15 years ago, there was a small silver bluish fox here.

Jackie Luebbert, Meta

LISTENING TO CONSERVATION

I appreciate your magazine now that I found out that you provide it through the Wolfner Library to people who are blind. I receive a talking tape of the Conservationist, and I don't need to use a large magnifying glass to look at the pictures, because of the vivid descriptions provided by your narrators.

Pat Layton, Newburg

NATURAL WONDERS

That's not me on the cover of the June issue, but the smile on the lady's face is a reflection of mine when I catch a fish.

I love the outdoors, especially the flora and fauna of my community. I was delighted when I found some Missouri orchids - ladies' tresses - on the pond dam where I fish.

I have been a senior citizen for a long time, but I still enjoy the new things I find. Are these things common, and have I just now in my old age found out some more of nature's secrets?

Nadine Walters, Irwin

HARMONY RESTORED

When we didn't receive the Conservationist for several months, my husband accused me of not mailing the card back on last Jun e's issue. I assumed I had, but recently discovered I'd not. Could you put us back on your mailing list and salvage our marriage of 29 years?

Barb Robinson, Mercer

Editor's note: We periodically cleanse our mailing list of outdated or incorrect addresses. The next "purge" will take place with the October issue. Look for and return the card on the wraparound cover to continue receiving the Conservationist.

THE RIVER THRIVES

This picture shows what the Flood of '93 did for the catfishing on the Mississippi River.

The big boy was 48 inches and weighed 50 pounds. The smaller fish weighed 28 pounds. Fishing has never been better in my 30 years of trotlining about 100 miles north of St. Louis. I caught four flatheads this past year that weighed over 40 pounds. The river thrives.

Paul Clay, St. Louis

AGENT'S NOTEBOOK

While checking fishing permits from my boat on the Current River near Doniphan, I suddenly noticed a large amount of debris, i ncluding a cooler, paddles and a boat cushion, floating downstream toward me.

I knew a dangerous rootwad was just under the water's surface around the bend. Current River enthusiasts know about it, too, and call it Snaggy Bend.

When I approached the area I could see three heads barely above the water. I saw a man with a child under each arm clinging with his knees to a submerged log as the swift water hit him in the face and threatened to pull him and his children under.

The man was exhausted but frozen with fear. When I reached out to take the children he would not let them go. I literally had to pull them away from him.

After the children were safely in my boat, he scrambled to a rootwad and clung tightly to it. I had to shake him loose to save him.

Fortunately, I happened to be in position to help the man and his children, and except for the fear and anxiety we all experienced, this incident had a happy ending. But every year many other pleasant outings on our state's recreational rivers turn into tragedies.

Canoeists can protect themselves from such dangers by asking their outfitters about the hazards on the river, requesting float trips that are in keeping with their needs and experience and always wearing their life jackets.

James T. Kuenzle, Ripley County