Because there is no rest for the wicked (huh?) I was persuaded to take my two canine sidekicks out to the Refuge for a late afternoon walk. I’d already ridden the Bike to Nowhere through some Spanish mountains and thought “That’s it for today,” but I was wrong. How do you resist two dogs attempting to help you put on your socks, looking at you with their yearning canine eyes, communicating more clearly than any human ever could? How do you resist that? How do you pretend you don’t know what they’re saying? Dogs see through that anyway. Is evasion possible? of course it IS possible but do you really WANT to evade it? So there we were, in Bella, heading south under a spectacular, bright blue sky that didn’t have even a single cloud. Meanwhile, Mohammed’s Radio played “Where the Streets Have no Name.” Clearly (ha ha) the jaunt was destined.
There is a change in the angle of sunlight, moving further south, only a month away from the shortest day of the year, the light is becoming winter light. We usually do an out and back walk, and I noticed the light on our return walk. The return walk was Bear’s “turn” which means she got to walk on the nature side of me and follow her heart’s desire within the length of the leash. During Bear’s turn, we went more slowly than we do on the way out when it was Teddy’s “turn.” He doesn’t savor the experience; he chases it. He pulls and sniffs, can’t get “there” fast enough. He’s like a kid with birthday money at the mall. Bear will hurry toward the experience then take her time savoring it.
The road is elevated about four feet above the wetland, for obvious reasons, and on the north side of that slope there are still snow and tracks. Along the road were several spots where deer and/or elk had bedded down in the grass.
When it was her turn, Bear pulled, too, but not ahead. She pulled down the slope to get closer to the spots where the ungulates came up and went down. At one point she was rolling in the snow and slid almost all the way down. Luckily, I was able to bring her back up the slope before that happened or all three of us would’ve been in the ungulate bed.
Meanwhile Teddy stayed close to me, sometimes touching my hand with his nose, “Are you still there, Martha?”
For most of my dog-owning life, I didn’t leash my dogs. It was only after a ranger in the Laguna Mountains took me aside. He’d caught Ariel and just loved her. “You should leash her,” he said. “Here’s why.” He went on to explain that if my dog encountered a cougar there were a lot of possibilities. 1) nothing would happen, 2) the dog would be killed by the cougar, 3) the dog would run back to me with the cougar following, not a pretty situation.
Ariel had great recall, so I didn’t worry about her running off, but I also didn’t think about mountain lions and packs of coyotes. I kind of ignored the Ranger until one of my dogs, Mila, Chow/Golden retriever mix, went off to join a very large pack of coyotes. I got her to come back, but there were upwards of 20 coyotes in the valley below the trail on which we were walking. That was it. When I became an owner of Siberian huskies, it was obvious to me THEY had to be leashed or they’d head into the territory ahead of the rest which was their primary motive in life, to find poop, game, or an Iditarod…
At the Refuge dogs have to be leashed, so I try to minimize the effect of that on what is in my dogs’ nature to do. Both of these dogs equate their restraint with freedom which is a very interesting philosophical position. I really admire them.
While Bear was rolling happily in a patch of snow, I had the chance to notice the light. From a photographer friend a long time ago I learned always to turn around. “I’ll be taking a photo, completely absorbed in it, use up my last plate, then I turn around and there’s a better picture. Now I look around first.” When I turned, I saw that the long snow shadows matched the sky, reflected the sky.
Featured photo: Frozen pond
I realize I write the same post over and over but this is my life. I was thinking as I put this together this morning that maybe it’s a good thing to offer a few minutes of Refuge.