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Pat Kucera’s Top 10 Animal Moments

    Diggity Dog Daycare has been opened because I have been a lifelong dog lover. I am very proud of the time I have worked with various humane societies across the country while following a professional career. I still love going to dog parks just to watch dogs interact and play. It does my heart good to watch that kind of entertainment.
     I have been lucky to have had some experiences that many people don’t get the opportunity to experience. As a person that appreciates the animal life that we share on this planet, I find it exhilarating and a great gift to have shared just a moment in time with creatures most of us can only see on television. Here are my top 10 experiences.

    10. Talking several college friends to go for an elephant ride at the Milwaukee zoo.
    9. Scuba Diving with the fishes. I don’t get the opportunity to scuba dive as much as I would like to, but it’s an incredible experience I truly enjoy. I’ve also had the opportunity to interact with dolphins, sea lions and seals while on fishing trips in California. Its crazy how those sea lions have figured out that when the fish is being reeled’s easy to bite off the meaty portion of the fish and just leave the fisherman with the hooked head.
    8. My dog Dusti getting struck at by a rattlesnake in Phoenix. Not a funny situation but luckily it was warning Dusti and it didn’t tag her. The funny thing was she simply moved on. It was US guys that were freaking out as we walked past it.
    7. Hand feeding stingrays. Their mouth is at the bottom of their bodies and not at the front. I felt sorry for them cuz they would stretch upwards to get their food. I was holding it like I’d feed a dog or fish. It’s weird. They are very docile creatures.
    6. Waking up to find a herd of buffalo had surrounded our campsite at Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It was a little intimidating but not scary. The funniest part was noticing that 2 large buffaloes had decided to lay down right in front of the doors to the campsite bathrooms. I mean lying right on the concrete slab in front of the door! I’m still convinced that was some kind of buffalo joke that they always play for their own entertainment.
    5. Standing about 30 yards away from a mother moose and her calf in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. This could often times be a very dangerous situation but we just quietly enjoyed viewing the moment and slowly back tracked without making any sudden movements.
    4. Getting scared to death by wild and crazed screaming of many animals at 1am while camping near Strawberry, AZ. We thought they were coyotes celebrating a kill, as it was sooooooooo eerie. Years later an experienced mountain hunter said it was a group of elk that was in our campsite. I’ve heard elk before, but that was the scariest sound I have ever heard in the wild. The 3 dogs with us were literally shaking in fear with us in the tent. The girlfriend asked, “are you going out to see what it is?” I’m still single.
    3. Lying in a ditch as a herd of over 250-350 elk passed by us at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. It was migration time so the elk were gathering in large herds. We crawled to within 20-30 feet of some of them. There were females, nursing calves and the big bulls. When some of the bulls caught our scent, they started moving off. We counted to about 235 and lost count as they crossed single file across the face of the mountainside.

    Experiences 1 and 2 are toss-ups.

    2. “French Kissing” Ivan the giraffe at the San Diego Wild Life park. Ok, it’s not what you think, but Ivan the giraffe loves treats and the people who give them to him. The park is designed to let animals of the same region of the world live together on several thousand acres of land. I took a tour in a flatbed truck and went right into the their world. As we were next to some white rhinos, Ivan ambled up to our truck and stuck his head inside looking for treats. After several attempts to get him to “sit” and “stay” he did use his 18-inch purple tongue to slowly pull his treat right out my mouth.
    1. Whale watching off San Diego. Even though I didn’t have tickets, I went to San Diego for the Packers vs Broncos Super Bowl weekend to take in the experience. I'’ve always wanted to go whale watching, and did I get a treat. A female grey whale hung around our boat and eventually came up right off the bow of our boat. Almost like she was putting on a show, she suddenly turned and came directly at the boat. The huge underwater shadow went directly under me and then breached (jumped out of) the water 5 times. Each time was less than 40 yards off the boat. The Captain’s comment was “It just don’t get any better than that!”

    Special mention needs to go to the peacock at the Milwaukee County Zoo that was wandering the grounds. It expertly crept up behind a woman getting popcorn and soda at a refreshment stand. Just as the woman was turning around, the peacock let out a squawk that could be heard down at the Summerfest grounds. I still can see the look of fear and surprise on the woman’s face. I don’t think the popcorn or soda has come down from the sky to this day.
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