Stacy Thomas Winnick
Dobby Capybara Winnick
The Ice Age of Seattle, December 2009, caused devastating habitat loss for capybara in the Puget Sound Region of Washington State. Prior to the Ice Age, Dobby had free access to his owner’s bedroom, including the corner home office area, the stairway to the Wine Cellar where his potatoes are stored, and the entire kitchen. He even had supervised access to the living room (with the coveted Eames Chair and its tasty armrest) and occasionally lurked underneath the dining table where he could nibble on knees throughout the meal.
In this study, temperatures are correlated with behavior and the subsequent loss of indoor habitat. The trend toward devilish bad behavior became clear even with the introduction of variables such as the prodigal college student, medical regimens, and the unfortunate and very untimely demise of equipment crucial to maintenance of the study.
Dobby has since returned to his original angelic disposition, but he will have to earn his way back into lost habitat by displaying perfect behavior, as defined by strict maternal standards.
Dobby Winnick is a capybara, Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, a large herbivorous rodent indigenous to South America, primarily the Amazon River Basin Region. He was born at Star Farm in Nacogdoches, Texas on Valentine’s Day 2009, to Bonnie and Clyde West. He was adopted by Stacy Winnick and moved to the Puget Sound Region of Washington State in early March, 2009, where he currently resides. He arrived in Seattle to sub-freezing temperatures, but by the time he was old enough to spend extended time outdoors, typical dreary Seattle gray skies and constant drizzle had set in. Summer brought record-breaking heat to briefly scorch the soggy, moss covered mud in Dobby’s yard. Autumn was unusually damp, and then December’s Ice Age arrived. As outdoor temperatures dropped below Dobby’s comfort level, his indoor habitat became more and more restricted and degraded and his normally angelic indoor behavior deteriorated in response to the outdoor temperature. This study correlates the temperature changes and subsequent indoor habitat loss and degradation with Dobby’s exhibited behavior.
Several independent lines of data were collected during the month of December, 2009, when the recent Ice Age occurred. A timeline of activities related to temperature and behavior was recorded. Temperature data was collected from a readily available online source. Habitat loss was tracked and recorded. Finally, Dobby’s behavior was assessed using quantitative and qualitative criteria.
Dobby’s pre-Ice Age indoor habitat consisted of several rooms, with both hardwood and carpeted flooring. As his behavior deteriorated, the areas Dobby considered to be the most desirable (carpeted- his tootsies slide like the devil on slick surfaces due to his exaggerated toenails) were transferred to the Holy Crap, Get the Hell Out of There, What Have You Done! habitat category. All of Dobby’s carpeted indoor habitat was eventually transferred to this category. Once he was confined to inferior habitat (hardwood floors, slick as snot), this area became degraded as area carpets were removed and even the ubiquitous IKEA Rabbit Rug (“Gosingen”) was removed from service when it became too filthy for indoor use, and yet too precious for outdoor use. Dobby eventually adapted to his new indoor habitat once the Rabbit Rug was returned to service.
Key Quantitative Results
Nov 30 Veterinary appt, weight 58.3#, worm samples delivered, first Ivermectin injection: Dobby was taken to the veterinarian in an attempt to diagnose worms that were expelled in his urine. Symptoms include increased frequency of anal marking. WTF?
Dec 1 First night of freezing weather: Dobby’s outdoor pen is protected from inclement weather but only partially protected from the cold. He has an antique iron bed, several vintage blankets and a comforter, a small stuffed gray rabbit toy, and a heat lamp [note: he now has a heated pad designed for dogs]
Dec 6 23 degrees at night: And we discover that Dobby looks a bit funky in the morning. We resolve to let him sleep inside if the cold weather continues, though he has been known to soil his bedding on a nightly basis for the past 5 months.
Dec 7 Temperatures continue to drop: Dobby moves indoors at bedtime and a shower curtain is placed under bedding to protect the carpet where he sleeps near the head of my bed. It’s really slippery. Bedding laundered.
Dec 8 12 degrees at night, not much above freezing days: Dobby stays in much of the day. Anal marking continues, and carpeted east end of master bedroom is put Off Limits. Bedding laundered.
Dec 9 12 degrees at night, not much above freezing days: Dobby stays in much of the day. Anal marking continues, and large blankets are spread in bedroom area in an attempt to deter anal marking (ineffective). Bedding laundered.
Dec 10 Still fricking cold, night and day: Second veterinary appt, weight 60.2#, one more worm sample delivered, second Ivermectin injection. No diagnosis from WA State parasitology lab. Fenbendazole prescribed as a precaution. Dobby still sleeping indoors. Bedding laundered.
Dec 11 Cold weather not yet ready to give in: Veterinarian calls with lab results. Dobby has a urinary tract infection. Baytril (1-3/4) tablets daily, in milk, w/sugar to make the medicine go down. Dobby doesn’t like this. Bedding laundered but the dryer is not working. We go out to an evening soiree, during which Dobby decorates the halls with anal markings, huge puddles of joy, and 11 piping piles of poo, through which one very angry lad has leaped, spreading holiday cheer. No hope for drying bedding and our stock of clean “sacrifice” blankets is diminishing. Wash it anyway and start hanging it around the house.
Dec 12 This weather sucks: Pair of underpants, a shoebox of lint, and half gallon of water(?) is removed from dryer vent, and the dryer is ready for business! Washer dies unexpectedly, and diagnosis is grim. Merde. Bedding NOT laundered.
Dec 13 I cannot believe this weather! Where is our rain? Bought new space-age heavy-duty washer from Sears Scratch and Dent, to be delivered “tomorrow”.
Dec 14 Ditto the weather, washer, dryer, Dobby’s little surprises, which are now like diarrhea, thanks to the antibiotic that is killing his gut bacteria.
Dec 15 Ditto the weather, washer, dryer: Becky home from college- watch your step, Becky!
Dec 16 Ditto the weather, washer, dryer, Dobby’s little surprises: Depth of ice on swimming pool reaches 6”
Dec 17 Predicted night temperatures to stay above freezing: Dobby moves back outside for bedtime!!! But he is still inside a lot of the day. It is not nice outside.
Dec 18 Weather continues to improve while multiplying dirty piles of laundry now decorate the halls. New washer arrives, promptly dies as the delivery van backs out the driveway and heads down the street.
Dec 19 Dobby moves outdoors for daytime: Do you hear that sigh of relief?
Dec 20 Dobby’s (now filthy) rabbit is removed from service
Dec 21 New new washer arrives, and amazes us all with its darling messages, sleek styling, ENORMOUS capacity, and nearly silent operation. Silent and constant.
Dec 22 Dobby’s clean white rabbit rug returned to service
Dec 23 Dobby starts Probiacin, now that the antibiotics have reamed out his system.
Dec 24 Baytril regimen complete but Dobby is now banished from the bedroom, even though we can now clean the blankets, enough is enough.
Dec 25 Dobby is now banished from the carpeted stairway. Temporary kitchen area set aside for Dobby
Dec 26 Dobby adapted to his kitchen area, somewhat. Temporary barriers reinforced after he barges past the hamster cage to decorate a previously untouched oriental carpet in the dining room.
Dec 27 Dobby continues to adapt to the kitchen enclosure
Dec 28 Dobby continues to adapt to the kitchen enclosure
Dec 29 Dobby continues to adapt to the kitchen enclosure
Dec 30 Dobby continues to adapt to the kitchen enclosure and starts Eeeeeping! again. We hadn’t really noticed when the eeps went away, but they are back.
Dec 31 Ice on swimming pool melted. Happy New Year!
Table 1 Temperature Data (Fahrenheit)
Daily minimum and maximum outdoor temperatures are noted. Indoor temperatures ranged from 60.4 to 70.2 degrees and are not noted because this variable remained unchanged for the duration of the study.
NOTE: From NOAA, the following commentary: “THE COLDEST TEMPERATURES OF THE YEAR OCCURRED IN EARLY DECEMBER DESPITE THE SUNSHINE AND LACK OF SNOW ON THE GROUND. A NUMBER OF DAILY RECORD LOWS FELL AROUND THE REGION INCLUDING THREE CONSECUTIVE DAYS OF 6 ABOVE ZERO AT OLYMPIA ON THE 8TH...9TH AND 10TH.
DEC 4-13 - WESTERN WASHINGTON
A COLD SNAP GRIPPED THE REGION WITH THE COLDEST TEMPERATURES OF THE YEAR. A NUMBER OF RECORD LOW TEMPERATURES FELL. OLYMPIA DROPPED TO 6 DEGREES ABOVE ON DEC 8...9 AND 10...THE COLDEST THIS DECADE. THOUGH DAMAGE RESULTS FROM THE COLD SPELL WERE NOT AVAILABLE YET...ONE LOCAL INSURANCE COMPANY DESCRIBED THE EVENT AS ONE OF THE TOP 6 SEVERE COLD WEATHER EVENTS IN THE LAST 25 YEARS WITH $4.3 MILLION IN CLAIMS.”
Table 2 Indoor Habitat Loss (in acres/hectares) and Degradation
Table 3 Behavioral Assessment
Dobby’s behavior was rated on a scale from Angel through Devil on a daily basis throughout the Ice Age. His behavior correlates with the Key Quantitative Results, above.
Interpretation of the Data
Poor ickle Dobbykins just didn’t understand what happened to his lovely world. Everything got cold and then he got sick, but then he got to sleep inside again! That was just like when he was a baby, but Big Boys don’t go potty inside. But wait- it was fricking freezing cold outside, and there was no way he was going to go out there, nosiree bob! So Dobby got pissed off and apparently he got pooped off, too. And then he got kicked outside again at night, just when he thought things were going his way, and that pissed him off, too. Then his rabbit disappeared and didn’t come back until the new washer came.
Dobby is currently restricted to a generous play area in the kitchen, and is learning to ring a little bell to go outside when he needs to. Spare white rabbit rugs have been purchased for emergency use.
Baha Men. Who Let the Dogs Out? Edel Records, 1998.
Cuppy, Will. How to Attract the Wombat. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.
Captain & Tennille; Muskrat Love. A&M Records, 1976.
Giffen, Craig. “Human Clock: About.” Human Clock. 2001-2009. SE Portland, Oregon. 31 Dec. 2009 <Http://www.humanclock.com>.
Ice Cube. Today Was a Good Day. Priority, 1993
MesoWest Lake Forest Park Towne Center WA US WAAQ, Seattle, Washington (PWS). “Weather History for This Location” 31 Dec. 2009 <Http://www.wunderground.com>.
National Weather Service Forecast Office. Seattle, WA <Http://www.nws.noaa.gov/sew>.
Peet, Bill. Capyboppy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1966.
Sedaris, Amy. I Like You. New York: Warner Books, 2006.
Typaldos, Melanie. Celeste and the Giant Hamster. <www.booksurge.com>: 2009.
Winnick, Stacy. Dobby’s Diary. Lake Forest Park: Unknown Press, 2010.
Winnick, Stacy. “Dobby’s Frozen Pool.” Dobby’s Day. 2010. Stacy’s Funny Farm. 6 Dec. 2009 <Http://www.hippopotatomus.blogspot.com>.
Winnick, Stacy. “Dobby Surprises Becky”, “Dobby and his White Rabbit Rug”, “Two Toy Rabbits”.” Hippopotatomus’s Channel. 29 Dec. 2009. <Http://www.youtube.com/user/hippopotatomus>.