Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Tribute to Hellon

Ebon's mother, Hellon, was put to sleep this morning. She was less than a month away from her fifteenth birthday. Hellon (full name: Hell on Ducks) was a working duck dog in her younger years, though lately as she's gotten older she's been nothing more than a pet. She was a very sweet, obedient dog and much of her temperament was passed on to Ebon. Ebon was from her last litter and spent the first five months of his life living with her and her owner's family. When I first got him he had already almost reached his mother's size. She was only about sixty pounds and it still amazes me sometimes that she produced a dog as big as Ebon.

I cannot describe how fond I've been of Hellon over the years. She was such a wonderful dog who was owned by a great family. She produced my dog, who is like my kid. I know a lot of people speak of their "heart dog," and Ebon, I would say, is mine. He's been with me through a lot of crazy times and always puts a smile on my face. He's always there for me. Since I love him so much, I have also loved his mother. The news of her death left a knot in my stomach that's still there and will take some time to fade. I'm tearing up as I write this. 

I'm going to go give Ebon some love. I hope he lives as long as his mother, but this is a reminder of how terribly brief the time we spend with our pets can be. Ebon is nearly eight and I've been worried for some time about how long his life will be. Being a larger-than-average purebred Labrador, it's possible he could only live ten years. I really would rather not think about that.

Ebon and Hellon in 2006. Ebon had not yet quite reached the size he is now
Hellon in 2009 with her Shih Tzu "sister," PC
Hellon earlier this year, age fourteen

Monday, November 19, 2012


Ebon had a seizure late last night, the first one since October 30, 2011. This is the forth seizure I've witnessed and, unlike the last one, this one was a bit worse. Ebon was sleeping on the floor beside me and he began paddling his legs. I thought he might have been having a vivid dream, but his movement was awfully dramatic and he wasn't woofing like he usually does when dreaming. I went to check on him and noticed his eyes were open. I reached out and touched his side. If he had been dreaming this pretty reliably will wake him up, but he didn't respond. He kept kicking, the muscles in his side twitching as well. After a moment he calmed. It took him a little longer before he let out a heavy sigh and shifted off of his side. This is the first time he didn't respond to me during a seizure. This is also the first seizure where he wasn't standing up during the episode.

The more seizures of his I witness, the more I wonder if I may have missed some in the past. None of them have been particularly violent, and if more had been like this one it's possible I overlooked them. However, so far the incidence of his confirmed seizures has been nearly identical to his brothers that also have epilepsy: once every six months to a year. I was hoping the long span of seizure-free days would continue, but nope. His last three seizures have been slightly more than a year apart. The infrequence is good, and I can only hope that they continue to be this infrequent.

Ebon and I are about to head out to Texas for the holidays. We'll be hanging out with my parents and Siggy. There will be pictures.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dog Food Review: California Natural

This is the tenth food I have reviewed so far. I have a bit of a review backlog now. Ebon has finished two different bags of food and is nearly done with a third. I'll try to space these out, but they will be a bit numerous over the next few days.

The bag
California Natural Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Adult Large Bites
Dog Food Advisor Rating: ★★★☆☆ This food is AAFCO approved for all life stages.

Ingredients: Lamb meal, brown rice, rice, sunflower oil, natural flavors, potassium chloride, ascorbic acid, beta carotene, biotin, calcium carbonate, calcium iodate, choline chloride, cobalt carbonate, cobalt proteinate, copper proteinate, d-calcium pantothenate, dicalcium pantothenate, dl-methionine, iron proteinate, manganese proteinate, niacin, potassium chloride, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin C supplement (sodium ascorbate), vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement (alpha tocopherol), zinc proteinate, taurine, rosemary extract

Items in italics will be discussed later.  

Bag's recommended daily feeding for a dog 80 lbs: ...I actually forgot to note this down. I'll write the number down the next time I'm at the store and add it in.
Crude Protein: minimum of 21.0%
Crude Fat: minimum of 11.0%
Crude Fiber: maximum of 2%
Moisture: maximum of 10.0%
Calorie content: 430 kcal/cup, 3990 kcal/kg
Calculated amount to maintain Ebon's ideal weight (82.5 lbs): 3.88 cups or 0.42 kg (0.924 lbs)
Price per pound when buying the largest bag (30 lbs at $49.99): $1.6663
Estimated cost of feeding Ebon per year on this food: $561.99 (11.242 of the 30 lb bags)
Ebon receives slightly less than the calculated feeding amount to allow for his daily treats
Ebon's overall health on this food: Good. Poop compact, energy level moderate to high. Coat and skin condition suffered

The kibble
I didn't make note of the start and end dates for this trial, but Ebon was on this food for about sixteen days. The kibble is a good size and smells somewhat like roasted chicken. A nice thing to see in this food: chelated minerals. Chelated minerals are believed to be more easily absorbed and used by the body than non-chelated minerals. This is the first food of those that I have reviewed that did not include probiotics. Probiotics/microorganisms help maintain good gut flora to provide for better digestion, so the fact that they can be found in so many foods is a good thing. However, this is not one of those foods. 

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this food. In general, Ebon did pretty good. His stool was nice and firm, which seems appropriate considering the comparatively small list of easily-digested ingredients in the food: little more than lamb, rice, and oil. Basically all of the California Natural products are like this, which I think is a good thing. If nothing else, it could be a great option for people whose pets have touchy stomachs.

My biggest issue with this food is actually a bit ironic. The bag itself says "Natural Solutions for Skin & Coat" but Ebon's coat and skin suffered while on the food. His coat became less shiny and his skin became incredibly dry. He does have a bit of a tendency to have dandruff, but it has never been anywhere near as bad as it got. He started itching so badly that I wondered if he had fleas! But no. I check him and found no flea dirt, only ubiquitous, large flakes of skin. I've been fighting that dry skin ever since. Due to the itching and chewing he started developing hot, red patches on his skin, and my attempts to remedy the situation intensified. I did not want him to develop bald spots. I bathed him thoroughly with an oatmeal shampoo and I conditioned his coat, which I never thought I would ever do. I worked at his coat with a hound glove to get rid of the flakes and to work the conditioner into his skin. He started getting lots of lipids in his diet, everything from olive oil and fish oil to bacon fat and meat trimmings. I also got a hydrocortisone spray, which I used once daily on the hot skin to try and get him to spot itching (he didn't like this part very much). Luckily, he's been getting better every day and is nearly back to normal.

This was actually the food that accompanied Ebon and I on our trip to Mississippi, during which time we were hit by hurricane Isaac. The skin symptoms that I saw appeared about the time we left and progressively worsened over the next week or two. Is it possible that he was exposed to something in Mississippi? Yes. I am definitely not ruling that possibility out. However, the fact that his dandruff was worsening slightly before we left makes me suspect that it had something to do with the food, even though the very large flakes didn't appear until a few days after we got back.. If anything, he may have been exposed to something that only made the problem worse.

My biggest suspicion about what property of the food may have lead to his dry skin is the fat content. So far, this is the lowest fat food of all the ones I have reviewed. In addition, it's very low in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, and is significantly lower in Vitamin A than some of the foods he's done best on. All of these are good for the skin. In the future, I am going to try and stick to foods with fat contents of 15% or more, as the foods in that category have yet to cause him major problems.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What I've Been Up To

Obligatory picture of dog being cute
I've been preparing for and taking the GRE.

When I first started this blog I was still intending to go through with my decision to become a high school teacher. One of my main reasons for wanting to do this was that I thought our country needed more well-qualified teachers. My own high school Biology teacher was terrible and made many of my classmates hate the subject, but my senior Zoology teacher (yes, my high school offered it) was amazing. She made me want to be like her. I got into a post-baccalaureate program, began taking courses, and even took the GACE (Georgia Assessment for the Certification of Educators). I did well. I thought it was even kind of fun. Then, I actually got into a classroom full of high school freshmen to observe and realized I hated it. The kids were impossible. It actually depressed me. So, I pulled myself out of the program.

Now, I'm working on applying to PhD programs. My hope is to get a PhD in genetics. I had some apprehension about the teaching program even before I applied to it, but the concept of me going into genetics research is just plain exciting. It's going to be challenging, sure, and I'm going to have to move far away from everyone I know, but that's okay.

I'm hoping to get some new blog posts up quite soon.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Guess the Genotype #88

So, I discovered today that a number of e-mails from y lovely readers were somehow lost in my inbox. I'm not sure how, but I swear I had never read some of them before. One of these e-mails is the source of today's Guess the Genotype. Can you guess this puppy's genotype? Its breed?

Image provided to me by Little Walken

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why Tortoiseshells are Tortoiseshells

Tortoiseshell cats display a wide range of markings
Most people who are familiar with cats know about tortoiseshells: those patchy, red and black kitties. Not necessarily as well known is the fact that virtually all tortoiseshells are female. Why is that?

Torti with lots of black
In domestic cats, the basic black and red pigment genes are actually located on the X chromosomes, and are thus sex-linked. Since cats are like us and their sex is determined by the X-Y system, males have only one X chromosome, while females have two of them. A lot of cats will have all chromosomes of the same type, which will lead to the cat having all red pigment or all black pigment. However, the genes are also basically co-dominant, which leads to both colors being expressed in females that have both a red X and a black X. However, things are a bit more complicated than that.

The exact mechanism behind a tortoiseshell's patch coat is actually quite fascinating. As with all X-Y animals, females don't necessarily benefit from having more than one copy of the X chromosome. The extra dose of genetic material can actually be problematic, so the body undergoes what it needs to for what is called dosage compensation. Basically, the body only wants to work with one chromosome at a time in each cell. Due to this, cells will undergo X-chromosome inactivation, packaging the material into a tiny bundle that is not usable. This little bundle is known as a Barr body.

A cell nucleus with a Barr body. Xi is the inactive chromosome in a Barr body, while Xa marks the active one
Torti-tabby ("torbie") with lots of red
Barr body formation is directly linked to the patchy coloration of tortoiseshells. Where the cat has an active black chromosome, the fur will be black pigmented. Where the cat has an active red chromosome, the fur will be red pigmented. Also, the chromosomal inactivation happens at varying stages of development. After it happens, all cells that come from the initial chromosonally inactivated cell will be of the same type. So, if a chromosome become inactive very early in development, it will lead to a large patch of fur that's the same color. Later inactivation leads to smaller patches. This is how tortoiseshell cats can have such variation in the size of their patches.

A tortoiseshell with fairly even color distribution
Believe it or not, looking for Barr bodies is one of the easiest ways to determine if an individual has a sex chromosomal abnormality. Women with no Barr bodies are likely to be XO, while those with more than one would be XXX, XXXX, or higher. Males with Barr bodies are likely XXY, and multiple Barr bodies would be XXXY or higher. Of course, this only works for those with unusual numbers of X chromosomes and another sort of test must be done for multiple Y's.

A calico cat
Calico cats are almost exactly like tortoiseshell cats, with the only difference being the addition of the gene for white markings. 

If you see a male tortoiseshell or calico cat, it's likely to have a chromosomal abnormality such as Klinefelters syndrome (XXY) or some sort of mutation. There have been more than a few male tortoiseshells that have been found to be either chimeras, which have the DNA of two separate individuals, or mosaics resulting from some sort of mutation.

Also an interesting feature of tortoiseshells is that they cannot really be cloned. Since their coloration is based on random chromosome inactivation, the offspring will never look the same as its parent. In fact, it's more likely that the clone will be solid black or red rather than tortoiseshell since whatever cell that is collected from the donor will have already undergone the inactivation. Indeed, the first ever cloned cat, though cloned from a calico tabby, ended up a simple, uni-colored, black-pigmented tabby.

Sources are Texas A&M, Memorial University, Kimball's Biology, University of Miami, Messy Beast, Cat Fanciers' Association, Berkleyio9, and Dr. Sophia Yin. Images are from Wikimedia Commons under creative Commons licenses: one, two, three, four, five, six.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ebon, Ebon, Ebon

So, I haven't really felt like I've had anything interesting to say lately. I drafted a few posts, but they were dry and I hated them, so thus the lack of...anything. I also got angry with my camera because it's making it more difficult for me to upload pictures. That didn't help.

Anyway, I'm going to get back into the swing of things. Here's some recent stuff with Ebon. Forgive me if the images are slow to load. My old uploading method automatically compressed the images down nice and small, but now I would have to compress them manually. So, these are not compressed at all. Hopefully I can work out an easier way of doing this.

Ebom at the fountain in the big park downtown. The last time we were here, the fountain was decorated for Christmas
Ebon enjoying the water
Here, you can see where the spout is
And now for the coolest water fountain I've ever seen. It has three levels: one for adults, one for children, and one that's the perfect height for dogs! It's the only one like this in the park, with all of the others being the standard one- or two-level types. Even though there is only one, I'm glad they have it. The city's pretty dog friendly, and little touches like this make lives much easier for dog owners.

I do wonder, though, if this is kind of a leftover from when the park was even friendlier for dog owners. It used to allow provisional off-leash time, but there's now an ordinance that all dogs must be on lead at all times. I might have to take Ebon's long-line with me one of these days and make use of the huge green space at this park, while still obeying the laws.

After the park, we stopped at a nearby natural food market that's the sole supplier of certain products. Ebon got to drink out of my squeeze bottle while taking a little rest in the shade.

That's it for our park day, but I do still have a few things to share:

I'm skirting the leash laws at the condo by using Ebon's long-line to play fetch. It was actually made for me by my dad out of old clothesline and a couple of strong clasps. It serves its purpose. I wish it was longer, though, and didn't tangle as easily.
I also taught Ebon how to open and close his kennel door a while ago. He learned it super quickly, and now absolutely loves to tug on the toy I tied to the door. Earlier today, I asked him to go and open the door. He then, without any prompting, went inside and closed the door behind him. Then, when I tried to open the door, he kept closing it again.

I love this dog.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Though you may not immediately recognize the name, this drug is infamous for what it did not so long ago. Beginning in the late 1950's and ending a few years later, it was prescribed to pregnant women as a treatment for morning sickness. What doctors didn't know then was some of the chemical's properties would cause some serious problems.

One of these things is not like the other, one of these things can cause severe birth defects and lead to countless lawsuits
Thalidomide lead to approximately ten thousand birth defects as a result of its use. Though mothers were perfectly fine, the chemical interacted with the growing baby's body, resulting in such defects as misshapen ears or feet and even reduced, or worse, completely missing limbs. It was a major scandal, as you can imagine. Many parents blamed themselves for what happened, and there were even suicides. To make things worse, the company that made the drug was silent for years about what had happened. They didn't issue an apology until August 2012. That's right, August of this year. The apology led to a major backlash with many people, including a large number of those born with birth defects caused by Thalidomide use, saying it was "too little too late."

So, what makes the drug so bad? It has to do with something called chirality. Certain chemicals with the same formula (in the case of Thalidomide, C13H10N2O4) are able to bind in slightly different ways. These forms can result in minor changes to how our bodies react to them, or can lead to some surprising differences. For example, another chiral molecule, limonene, smells like oranges in one form (the R enantiomer), and the other form (the S enantiomer) smells more like turpentine. Why is this? The proteins in our body have receptor sights that are very specific shapes. If one enantiomer fits, it's highly likely that the other one will not. Instead, it's common for the two forms to react with completely different proteins and lead to very different results.

One defect resulting from Thalidomide
In much the same vein, Thalidomide causes very different reactions based on which enantiomer is present. The R form, seen to the right in the first image on this post, helps with morning sickness. The S form, to the left, is what caused all of the problems. It, unfortunately, got in the way of the normal development of a fetus.

Well, chiral molecules that occur in a racemic mixture (a mixture of both enantiomers) can be purified until only one enantiomer is present. So, why not do that? Then, it would treat morning sickness and not cause birth defects, right? Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Even when pure R-Thalidomide is given, the body freely converts the drug back and forth between the R and S forms. So, even if a patient is given only the beneficial enantiomer, some of the bad enantiomer will end up floating around in their blood stream. Even the good form is dangerous.

Interestingly enough, Thalidomide has not been completely taken off of the market. It is used to treat such diseases as leprosy, and is being researched as a treatment for cancer. It carries strong warnings about its potential for birth defects, but the side effects on the average, non-pregnant person are minimal. They are mainly limited to such things as dizziness and drowsiness.

Sources are the Thalomid Information, International Myeloma Foundation, PubMed Health, RxList, Drug Bank, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Ouvaton, Chirality & Odour Perception, MedicineNet, The New York Times, and Reuters. Images are from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons licenses or are copyright free: one, two.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Guess the Genotype #87

Can you guess this dog's genotype? Its breed? You might be surprised.

Images were provided to me by Rachel H.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Crazy Plants: Bracatinga

The bright yellow flowers of a bracatinga (Mimosa scabrella)
This fairly sizable plant is a relative of the far smaller sensitive plant, which responds to touch, making it an interesting plant for kids. The two species are in the same genus, though they look quite different. The bracatinga also appears to lack the characteristic movement of its cousin. Like just about every species in the genus Mimosa, the complex flowers look rather like puffballs. While many in the genus have pink or purplish flowers, the bracatinga has whitish to yellow flowers. The tree can grow to fifteen meters tall, sometimes more, and up fifty centimeters in diameter. A height of five meters can be reached in a little over a year. The plant can handle fairly acidic soil, but doesn't like too much water. Its leaves are nitrogen rich, and their decomposition after falling can be very good for the soil.

The bracatinga was a very important source of wood for the Brazilian railroads. Due to this use, and its rapid growth, the species is often planted as a source of fuel. It is also used as a shade tree and for ornamentation. It has also be used for making paper, fence posts, and, interestingly enough, as a food source for goats. The flowers can also be used for honey production.

Sources are Purdue UniversityWinrock International, World Agroforestry Centre, Encyclo, and Erika Styger, PhD. Image is from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Name That Animal (Answer)

This is a legless lizard. Specifically, an Eastern glass lizard (Ophisaurus ventralis). You guys did a great job guessing! For those that are curious, I have absolutely no idea how it died.

When I spotted it from about fifteen feet away, I thought it might be a snake, but on closer examination (especially after I realized it was dead), I realized it wasn't. The head was all wrong! It didn't have a distinct neck like the local venomous species (except the coral snake, but it's hard to misidentify them), and the head was pointed, whereas the local non-venomous species has very blunt faces. Then, I looked even closer, checking for ear openings. Snakes so not have external ear openings, but this animal did. Thus, legless lizard. I did have to do a little searching to find the exact species, since there are four legless lizard species found in my area.

This particular species is found throughout much of the Southern United States, extending from Mississippi to North Carolina. It prefers sandy areas, so its presence where I am isn't that surprising. Though this specimen is fairly small, the species can grow up to forty-three inches, or over a meter in length.

As with many lizards, glass lizards can loose and regrow their tails. The fact that they will easily drop their tails, as if they were fragile, is why the group is known as "glass lizards." If you look closely at the first image, you can see a line on the tail. This is likely the growth point after it dropped its tail.

Name This Animal

I found it dead out by one of the dumpsters. I'm not looking for a specific name (though go for it, if you want!), but the general group. I'll be posting the answer later today.

The body is maybe tweny inches long

Closer view of the head
You can click the images for larger views if you feel the need, but the quality will drop.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ebon's Mother

I was finally able to snag a good picture of her for the blog. Most of the pictures I have or can find aren't so great (example). This is Ebon's mother, Hellon, who will be fifteen this Christmas. She has some mobility issues (what dog this age doesn't?), but she's still doing pretty well. I kept miscalculating her age, but I know for sure now. She has the most fascinating graying pattern. I love looking at old dogs and seeing where and when they gray. A lot of them aren't as extensive as this!

Hellon is about sixty pounds and is a retired working dog, retrieving ducks regularly in her younger days. Ebon was the runt from her last litter and ended up being the biggest of them when he finished growing. She was spayed when he was about a year old. She currently lives with a Shih Tzu, but when Ebon was born she had an elderly Pekingese companion. Image is from her owner, used with permission.
 I bet Ebon will look like this one day.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Crazy Trip

I actually got back last night, but was really tired. In the end, I wasn't actually able to attend the funeral. Thanks to the hurricane, there was flooding that cut off the bridge to the chapel. The ground was also completely saturated, so we didn't even know when it would be possible to bury the poor man. Plus, there was a dam in the area that had suffered considerable damage and was at risk of breaking and causing serious flash floods. It was just a complete mess, but I was glad I was there, since we knew my grandparents were safe.

I took pictures, of course. Here's some of the damage we saw:

The sense of scale is skewed. These trees are huge, around one hundred feet high and were completely uprooted. The power line the one fell on feeds most of the town. Luckily, we were on a separate grid and, except for a few flickers, had power through the whole storm.
This pond is usually about a third the size seen her. This is the property of the man whose funeral we were there to attend. There's a dam somewhere under the water, but it didn't do much good. A field to the left of this dirt road was completely flooded.
The boys right by the flooding. Ebon wanted to wade in the water, so I had to leash him so he wouldn't be an idiot and get himself hurt.
A casualty of the pond overflow, close to where Ebon is in the first picture
A five foot wide chunk washed out of another dirt road
Minor damage. These little leafy twigs were everywhere.
A mailbox nailed by a falling limb
The worst we saw at my grandparent's house: a minor roof leak.
Some delicate creatures survived the storm unscathed
 And here's some of the other pictures I took. Click for larger views.
An American white ibis shortly before we left
King Ebon during a food stop
A convoy of cherry pickers we were following most of the trip in
Sunset through some outer bands of Isaac
The boys after a walk in the rain from Isaac's outer bands
Siggy's spots really show through his coat when wet
Ebon's paw prints in the mud after Isaac
Ebon loved our romp around the property
We didn't get a lot of thunder, but when we did, this happened: a very stressed Siggy

On the way home we were treated to a double rainbow over Florida. Beautiful sight

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I'm currently pinned down in Mississippi. I lost a family member and am here for the funeral, but of course Hurricane Isaac is bearing down on us. Internet was already scarce, but now it's basically non-existent. Plus, the power may go out at any moment. I'll return to blogging whenever I management to get home.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Unusual Breed: Kooikerhondje

This small breed is also known by such names as the Dutch decoy dog.
Though the original Kooiker was a rather old breed, the current version only dates back to the 1940's. Before then, the breed was seen in the work of some very famous Dutch painters. After World War II it was basically gone and the Baroness Van Hardenbroek van Ammerstol began work to recreate the breed. She hunted down dogs that looked similar to the breed she remembered, and these became the foundation for the modern Kooikerhondje.

A typical Kooiker face
Whether new or old, these small dogs have been used as duck decoys. Supposedly, their plumed tails act as a lure to draw the ducks into nets, where they are then trapped. The method is actually rather complicated, and required the use of special traps that needed a lot of upkeep. Since the tail is given an important status, emphasis is placed on its plumed appearance. The breed has also been used to hunt pest species outside of duck season.

These dogs are rather small, measuring fifteen to sixteen inches tall. Their feathered coat is reminiscent of certain spaniels. The breed only comes in one color variation: red piebald with black hairs on the ears. The preferred facial markings are also clearly defined: a white stripe down the face with prominent red on the cheeks.

Though once a prominent working breed, the Kooiker is now primarily a companion.

Sources are the American Kennel Club, Fédération Cynologique Internationale, and Kooikerhondje Club of the USA. Images are from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons licenses: one, two.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Pilobolus is also known as the shotgun fungus due to its interesting reproductive habits
I'm going to do something different today and talk about a fungus. Though I do regular posts about animals and plants, other life is rarely mentioned on the blog, and I would like to change that.

Pilobolus is a personal favorite fungus of mine, due to how interesting its life cycle is. This fungus grows on the dung of herbivorous animals. However, that's not the interesting part. It begins with the fact that the spores don't land on the dung after it's deposited: they're there before it ever touches the ground. How does it get there? The animal eats grass that has already been contaminated by the spores. This way, the spores reach the dung when it's still incredibly fresh.

One of the major difficulties in this, though, is that animals generally won't eat vegetation that is close to where dung has been deposited, something called the "zone of repugnance." This makes sense for the animal, and creates a problem for the fungus. So, how does it get past this problem? Pilobolus actually shoots its spores through the air to try and reach fresh grass. The sporangium (or bunch of spores) develops on top of a high-pressure, liquid filled section. When the spores are mature, this section burst and the sporangium is shot away. Considering how small these structures, it's remarkable that the sporangium can go as far as two meters.

Below is some brilliant footage of this fungus in action: 

Interestingly enough, certain nematode worms that are internal parasites to the same herbivores will often hitch a ride on the sporangium. This can actually be seen in the video above. Look for small white thread-looking things during the closeups of the fungus. Those are the worms.

Sources are Utah State University, University of Wisconsin, Cornell University, and the BBC. Image is from under a Creative Commons license.