Nature Study – Dogs

One of our favorite nature studies ever was this one, Outdoor Hour Challenge #51: Wolf, Fox, and Dog. We watched part of a PBS show called In The Valley of the Wolves. It does have some graphic parts, but Kathryn didn’t seem disturbed by it. I’m always conflicted on those parts, and never can decide who to cheer for: the predator to get food and feed it’s family, or for the prey to get away and live another day. Either way, it’s life.

We read about wolves, foxes, and dogs in our Handbook of Nature Study. Kathryn has never seen a wolf or fox in real life, but I have. I’ve always had a fascination with wolves. One of my fondest memories is of meeting a domesticated wolf and spending at least an hour (I lost track of time) years ago just talking to her and petting her; I felt really special when the owner said the wolf seldom let anyone touch her and usually hid from people. Only once did I ever see a fox in the wild, and it was thrilling to see it bound away. When I lived in the mountains, a coyote ran down the road in front of my house, and my dad has seen wolves at his house in the mountains a few times in the past few years.

In the “METHOD” section at the end of the lesson the author says, “For the observation lesson it would be well to have at hand a well-disposed dog which would not object to being handled.” We just happened to have a well-disposed dog lying right by the couch, so we studied Lacy!

First we studied her paws, with thick pads and non-retractable claws. (We think it’s cute that some of her toe pads stayed pink.)

dog toes

Then we talked about moist dog noses, how well they can smell, and how amazing it would be to be able to smell so many things from so far away! Guess I’d never really thought before about how the shape of the nostrils and the fact that they’re set right at the tip of the nose to maximize the ability to smell.

dog nose

We talked about dog hair, differences between breeds of dogs and what they were bred to do. We talked about ears and how well dogs can hear, and held our hands up to our ears to imitate the shape of a dog’s ear to see how that helps it hear better. We looked at Lacy’s pretty eyes and talked about the similarities between the pupil of a dog’s eye and our own pupils, verses the slit-like pupils of the cat.

dog eyes

For Kathryn’s journal entry, she drew a picture of Lacy and labeled various parts with info about some of the parts we had discussed. To finish off our lesson, we went out in the back yard and watched Lacy run around and demonstrate the lean and muscular body of a dog. Thank you, WonderDog, for letting us study you!