Aki turned 14 last Fall. If she were a more normal dog, she would act like she was almost 100 years old. Most folks think she is still puppy. All I know is that she hasn’t started to slow down yet. Today, her other human and I are crossing Mendenhall Lake using cross country skis. The little dog trots just behind me, her little tail beating back and forth like a metronome.
The last time we visited the lake it was several degrees below zero F. Today the air is just below freezing. The air is flat calm and no clouds block the sunshine. We first planned on taking a harder to find, lesser used trail for this morning’s ski because of all the cars parked near our usual trailhead. But the recent sub-zero weather solidified the lake ice. That opened up a path along the lake’s Southern shore.
We never met any other skiers during most of our ski. We saw more tracks left by wild animals than those left by people and their dogs. When checking out one photo after we returned home, I noticed the solo tracks of a red fox left it left while leaving the woods to cross the lake last night. Closer to the start of Mendenhall River, we had to ski over heavier tracks left early this morning by what might have been a lynx.
Seeing the wild animal tracks made me understand better why Aki stops so often to check out scents on the trail—even on new trails like this on lakes that have been used by few dogs. She always wants to know who else is passing through the neighborhood. More than once she had barked discouragement to chase off another wild animal I could not even see. She treed as least four bears. But she seems open to hanging out with other animals. She has even placed herself none-to-nose with a prickly porcupine. Another time, she even dashed across softening lake ice to visit with an otter.