Category Archives: Poodle

Corvid Sermon

A misery of wet snow fell on the little dog and I when we walked from our house to the car. As I drove Aki looked uncertain. The wipers worked to clear the windshield of the stuff. At least no wind rocked the car as we headed out to the northern end of Douglas Island. There we hoped to find protection from the mucky weather in an old growth forest. 

             At the trailhead, Aki sniffed spots on the parking area as I pulled on ice cleats. Without them I’d fall on the icy trail. The warm, wet weather was already softening the trail ice. By next week, the cleats might be stored away until next winter. Except for eagle screams and raven complaints the rain forest was silent. Nothing slowed our progress to the beach where we found hundreds of surf scoters formed into tightly packed rafts.

            One of the scoter rafts formed into a line and cruised past two crows on an offshore rock. One of the crows stood erect as a preacher. Few of the scoters turned their orange beaks toward the crows. But a lone harlequin dock approached with its head tilted as if to better hear the sermon. 

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Tough Duck

After yesterday’s expedition out the road, Aki and I are walking on a less demanding trail today. I need cleats to stay upright on the icy surface. Tomorrow’s promised rain should melt most of it away. I look forward to the end of ice season, but I’ll miss the snow that now covers the forest floor. 

The trail circles through old growth rain forest. Halfway through, we drop onto a pebble beach.  Our appearance encourages the resident mallards and harlequin duck to paddle into the bay.  One mallard drake refuses to move. It just gives us a hard look. Okay, Okay, we were heading back into the woods anyway.

Bad Idea

I can’t believe we are back on the ice cave trail, slipping along the edge of an open crevasse. Because of a recent cold streak, I thought the path would be safe. But I hadn’t given full credit to the power of winter sun. 

            We had no trouble crossing the ice of Mendenhall Lake. One of Aki’s favorite human friends joined us. The easy trail allowed us to enjoy watching the glacier grow in size as we approached it.  Snow still covered the rocky peninsula that serves as a kittiwake rookery each summer.  I searched it without success for ptarmigan feeding on willow catkins. 

            A large slab of ice formed from snowmelt covered the trail just above the lake. Instead of the easy walking we enjoyed on our last visit, we had to scrabble up and over ice to leave the lake. The trail improved after that so we could appreciate the jumble of pyramid-shapes that form the glacier’s icefall. 

              We stop to check out a minor ice cave but It looked like a muddy hole so we didn’t go in. We pushed on to the second cave, which is lined with aquamarine ice. To get there we have to pass through a section of icy trail and steep, snow-covered chutes. 

            Aki watches her humans slip and slide down the trail, like the nursery maid she thinks herself to be.  A golden retriever joins us just before we reach the cave. The big dog distracts Aki for a few seconds. Then she is back on human duty until I pretzel my way through an ice labyrinth and disappear into the cave. Neither she nor the retriever followed me.  

Relaxing in the Sun

It’s too early for true spring, little dog. Aki squints up at me. She looks relaxed, not annoyed. Even through the temperature is below freezing, my gloveless hands are warm. 

We crunch over still frozen sand toward the little bay formed by the collapse of the Treadwell mine tunnel. I look for bird tracks but see only those of dogs and their people. Just offshore, a small raft of golden eye ducks pull mussels off splinted pilings. We watch for several minutes until the head duck stares us down. 

With regret, I lead the little dog off Sandy Beach and into the forested ruins of Treadwell. Even here, sunshine manages to dapple the snow-covered ground. A bald eagle gives itself away with a screech. I find him hidden in a snarl of spruce and cottonwood limbs, apparently enjoying the sun. 

Little Dog, Big World

This morning a frustrated Aki barked through the window at a thieving raven. It didn’t stop the bird from tearing strips from a bundle of floating row cover.  The poodle-mix barked even more when the raven flew toward its nest site with a beak full of lining material. The raven, a pirate by nature, would probably blame me for leaving the cloth just laying around. It might even find fault with Aki for not figuring out how to escape from the house. 

            A few ravens flew over Aki as we slipped onto Mendenhall Lake to do a circuit around the cross-country ski course. Aki ignored them. There were just too many smells for her to catalogue. I listened to the hair-blown-through-comb sound of the passing corvid and started skiing toward the glacier. Aki dashed ahead until she was a tiny dot of color in a world of white—a small dog charging toward a river of ice. 

A Little Obsessed

The snow on each side of the path is too soft for even Aki to use. The little dog must master an icy chute of a trail if we are going to drop down to the road. I’d like to appreciate the sugar sparkle of the snow and the shapes formed by the bare cottonwood trees against the indigo sky. But Aki has all my attention. 

The little poodle-mix tries a quick trot then slides and freezes into a cringe. When sure that she won’t slip out of control she reaches out with her front left paw to tip toe forward and drops into another cringe. Thanks to my cleats, I can move with confidence toward her. She arches her back after I arrive like she does when asking to be picked up at home. I do and carry her to the relative safety of the road. Soon she is trotting along in a snowy channel packed firm by the tire of a passing truck. 

Better in Black and White

The sun exited today, leaving behind a place better suited for black and white photography than color. I pull Aki’s most colorful sweater over her muzzle and settle it over her back and shoulders. Then we head out to Gastineau Meadows. 

            A week of cold temperatures has kept the meadow snow too soft for walking without snowshoes. I didn’t bring a pair. Aki is a shade better off.  A thin crust mainly supports her. But the little poodle-mix breaks through every four or five steps. We’d be forced to turn around if three others with snowshoes had not set a trail for us. 

            Aki loves to chase her Frisbee over snowy meadows, especially this one. Today she growls after the toy when it lands in the broken trail. When it lands elsewhere, she minces toward it, sometimes chest deep in loose snow.