Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Teachable Moment

A couple of days ago, I was on my way home when I spotted something of interest. I thought the experience could serve as a sort of learning moment for everyone, myself included.

I was at a stop sign at a “T” intersection in a rural area when I spotted a large, black animal with a long tail moving about in some high grass in a field directly in front of me. I was immediately very excited. I have been taking reports from people who claim to have seen black panthers for years but have never seen one myself. Could my time have finally arrived?

Fortunately, I was practicing what I preach about having a camera/video recorder ready at all times and was able to get a video of the animal. That video is below.

As you can see, video does not always do justice to what a witness is seeing. The animal I was viewing was much closer than what it appears in the video. I would estimate the animal was not quite 100 yards away. The creature appears like a tiny speck in the video despite my best effort to zoom in on it.

The animal was easily as large as a Labrador retriever and clearly had a long tail. Was this the elusive black panther I have sought?


Sometimes, a Labrador retriever-sized animal is actually a Labrador retriever. I believe that is what I was looking at as I sat at that intersection. Even if I have the breed wrong, I was clearly seeing a dog of some kind. The way the animal moved, the way it held its tail up, etc. all clearly said “dog” to me. I will admit to being excited upon catching my first glimpse of the animal and had the dog stayed low and retreated into the taller grass I would have been left to wonder what I had seen. Fortunately, it stayed long enough for me to make a clear identification.

So, what is the lesson here? First, keep a camera, phone or some kind of video recorder handy at all times. You just never know when you might come upon something of interest. Even if you are unsure of what your own eyes are seeing, you might be able to figure it out later by examining the video. Second, when you see something of interest, stop. Look at it for as long as you can. Had I simply taken a quick look and then proceeded on my trip home, I would have been left to wonder what that animal might have been. By pausing, the animal eventually revealed its identity. Next, understand that the most common answer is usually the correct one. We have discussed Occam’s Razor here before and I believe it holds true most of the time. Last, be skeptical but open-minded. Imagine if this video had been presented to you. Clearly, there is a large, black, long-tailed animal in the shown. Would you have taken a quick peak and decided “black panther” or would you have said it has to be a dog because there is no such thing as a black panther? Either assumption, jumped to prematurely, is a bad thing. Let it all play out and know that saying, “I don’t know” is not a bad thing. If the dog in this video had not cooperated and stayed in my field of view for as long as it did, I might be saying that to you now.

Keep those eyes open and cameras ready.

1 comment:

  1. Loving your pictures and the distinctive and personal way you have put your story across - you're an inspiration and I am following your journey - awesome work!