Thursday, July 25, 2013

Working dog, working dog, I'm a working dog

Danee was my work partner this week.

Yes, as part of my job, I get to hike for work. Don't be jealous, the hikes are mostly all up hill, the trails are in thick woods on the sides of mountains, don't usually end anywhere pretty (like an alpine lake), and they are quick 'get in and get out' kind of hikes.

Usually most of my work day involves driving, not hiking. I get far more windshield time than I do boots on the ground time. But this year has been somewhat quiet for me, so I've been out collecting bear hair from trees and other objects (like wooden trail bridges and sign posts) that bears like to rub on. Since the sites are part of a research study, they are marked and have short strands of barbed wire on them. You wouldn't think that a bear would like rubbing their backs and sides on barbed wire, but they do. And because they do, they leave us lots of hair to collect. The sites mostly look like this...

A rub tree alongside the hiking trail

A close-up view of the tree

This week my intern was off doing other things, and since I wanted a little company on this hike, I took Little Dog. She's been out on some shorter hikes, but never on a longer one or on a working hike. Holly was jealous she got left behind. But if I take a dog for a working hike, I only take one at a time. I need to focus on work, not on keeping two wild dingos on trail with me.

Lunch at a creek

I kept her on leash so she wouldn't outpace herself and get too tired on the way back. She's never been this far out in the back country so I didn't want her to have a negative experience (or lose her!) her first time out. She was wonderfully patient while I stopped at each of the sites to collect hair, enjoyed lunch with me at the last creek crossing, and I found out that she really likes huckleberries...she even learned to pick her own each time we stopped for a short break.


She even alerted me when she heard a larger animal move off the trail way ahead of us. What a good bear dog :) She was an excellent trail partner and hopefully this will be the start of many back country hikes for us.

More hiking please

One tired Little Dog

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mountains of Beauty

Our mountain lakes are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen. I'm not much of a water person, but there is something serene in visiting lakes and ponds where few humans ever go. Only natural noises...frogs croaking, wind blowing, birds singing. No human related planes people talking. It's wonderful.

And to prove to you that I haven't abandoned the dogs completely, here's Little Dog feeling mighty sorry for herself. She put a gash on her leg and is on the injured list. No more leaping over sharp pointy sticks in the woods until it heals.

Not only is she stuck on a leash for awhile, but wearing a t-shirt to prevent her from licking it hasn't improved her mood any.

But Holly doesn't care about poor, sad Little Dog...because as soon as I post this, her and I are headed to the river for a swim.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

My Huckleberry Hound

Things keep rolling along this keeps me busy, though not as busy this year as it has been in years past. As a result, I can do some different things this get out of my truck and hike more. Yay!

I hike to get to know my working area better, to look for bear sign and to check out how bear-foods are looking each year. One of the primary summer foods in this area is huckleberries...and I keep an eye out on how the berries are doing each year as they can tell me a lot about what the bears are going to do. I won't get into bears and berries lets just say that when huckleberry (and other natural berry) production is good out there, my work schedule is pretty quiet.

Both people and bears alike search long and hard for hucks to pick each year. While this area of the state has excellent natural huckleberry production, good berry picking spots are coveted secrets...and I'm not giving any away here! On average, the huckleberries look pretty good this year and I look forward to picking them over the next several weeks...which is necessary if you want hot huckleberry pancakes all winter long, and I do.

Holly loves huckleberries (and thimble berries). Several years ago I showed her how to eat berries from the bush (which wasn't hard) while I was out huckleberry picking. So each year she goes with me to one of my berry picking spots where she can be off leash and eat berries to her hearts content. Unfortunately that usually means following me around lie glue and trying to eat each and every berry I pick...while I'm picking it. She gets some of them, but the rest get slobbered on while I tell her to bugger off and find her own stinking berries. Last year she was too injured to pick berries with me, so I'm looking forward to taking her this year...and also seeing what Danee thinks about all this berry picking nonsense. She's not really a fan of berries...yet.

In other news, I updated several of my previous blog posts about our shelter dogs...but I'll give a quick update on them here too. Cooper, the blind hound mix, was adopted. Susie, the coonhound, was transferred to a neighboring shelter as their area is more 'have a hound dog as a pet' community. Spud has someone coming to look at her tomorrow, but if they do not end up adopting her (keep your fingers crossed!) she will soon be transferred to different neighboring shelter that specializes in adopting out bully-breeds. In the last few weeks we've had 4 dogs adopted with another one hopefully being adopted tomorrow (that's pretty good for a shelter that has a 10 dog capacity). That will leave us just 2-3 dogs up for adoption...and while we have a mostly empty shelter, we'll be doing some kennel improvements. Whoot! It's so nice that these great dogs are finding great homes :)

Speaking of great dogs, have I shared how much I love this dog? Just sayin...