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


Breanna said...

That rocks Kim, sounds like you both were meant for each other!

Kim said...

Little Dog agrees with you and I'm pretty sure I can't give her up now :)

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

How fun!!! My dogs are super jealous!

mia said...

Yes, I knew you'd bond. I love Danee! She is the perfect companion!
Huck juice on her legs.!!!!

KB Bear said...

What a perfect little dog and a perfect working day. You are indeed lucky to have days like this one. I'm curious - I imagine that you're using the fur for DNA testing - but what are you testing for?

Our berries are HUGE this year. I am so happy for the wildlife.

Kim said...

Great question KB. We are collecting specifically grizzly bear hair. And we are looking to identify individual bears and their relationship to each other...maternity, paternity, etc. The population is small and we have genetic bottleneck concerns. We are also using DNA to do a population estimate.