Nose up? Grab the leash!

That's one of my favorite spots on Brundage mountain, in the photo above. It's on the "back" or north side, called Hidden Valley, and is hardly used by anyone except the occasional weekend mountain biker, going down. This mature grove of aspen is at the top of a short rise. The morning sun was hitting the leaves and white bark - and the girls - in a way that demanded a photo.

Just past those aspen, in an open meadow, is this large granite bounder. I had no problem enticing Maia out onto the boulder - she often enjoys standing on rock outcroppings, taking in the view. This one, however, didn't offer much view enhancement. I thought it would make a nice photo op, though.

Maia is demonstrating how to NOT pose for a photo. She does this to me all the time. I can call her name, make kissy noises, say "Treat!" - nothing works, she refuses to look at me when I've got the camera in my hands. Or she turns and walks toward me, despite my saying "Stay!" Either way - lost photo op.

Meadow seemed to understand my frustration and joined Maia on the boulder. I managed this shot just before Maia jumped off and came to me. Meadow is a natural model.

Instead of doing our usual loop route up Hidden Valley to the top of Brundage and down Elk Trail, I opted to turn around and come back down Hidden Valley despite the steep and often difficult footing. We'd never done that. By shaking things up that way, I was treated to this view to the north.

Now, here's the story behind the title to this entry.

Very early in the run - within a quarter mile of the car - Meadow's nose went straight up and she went to the lead. Trouble! I asked her to stay, grabbed her collar, and held her as we navigated the next stretch of trail. We were near a small stream, and we often spook deer here, so I assumed that's what she smelled.


Even as I held her collar and walked, her nose was still working overtime. I should have dug out the leash at that point. But I was so sure it was a deer near the stream, that when we went up and away from there, I turned her loose. Big mistake. Nose up, she started trotting up the trail, and Maia, noticing Meadow's body language, joined along. They both instantly went deaf, and started running straight up a hillside until they were out of sight.

Arrgghhh. Now I'm pissed.

Maia, always the good girl, came back almost immediately. But not Meadow. She was completely out of sight, up and over a rise, maybe into the trees. It was at that point I saw a big hawk, or perhaps a turkey vulture, circling overhead. That's when I knew: Meadow had smelled a carcass somewhere on that hillside.

I called and called; nothing. I started hiking up through the grass and wildflowers, with Maia as my guide, a little afraid of what I might find Meadow getting into. But before I'd gotten too far, Meadow popped out of the trees and slowly, guiltily, came down toward us. Maia went straight over and sniffed Meadow's muzzle closely; I guess if Maia couldn't actually enjoy the carcass, she could partake of the smell of Meadow's breath. Yuck.

I put the leash on Meadow and kept it on for quite awhile, her punishment for going off trail and not coming when called.

For Meadow, there's something overpoweringly enticing about a carcass. It's the one thing she will risk disobedience for.

We climbed to the turnaround point, then headed back down. As we approached this same area from above, Meadow's elevated nose and general body language told me to grab the leash again. Just as I was clipping it to her collar, a murder of crows let out a collective "Caw! Caw!" from off in the nearby stand of pines, upset that their meal had been interrupted. They were loud. Clearly there were many of them, feasting.

I'll never know what sort of carcass Meadow found. But I finished that run thinking that Meadow missed her calling: she should have been a cadaver dog. Her nose is amazing.