Malamutes on Cougar

A rare thing happened in the Seattle area this holiday weekend: sunshine.

Since the dogs never let me sleep in on a nice day, we were up at 6:00 AM. Dogs don't know it's Memorial Day. We can sleep when we're old. Right now - sunshine and daylight are burnin' so let's get going!

The girls and I were out for a hike on Cougar Mountain by 7:00 AM. After much internal debate, I left Finn home. This was "me and girls" time. Finn gets to play on Cougar regularly; for the girls, it's a special outing. It felt as though we had the park to ourselves.

I assured the girls we weren't over the weight limit noted in the trail head sign. No cave-ins caused by us, no indeed! (Cougar Mountain has several old mining pits; some have huge grates covering them for safety, others are fenced off; still others probably lurk just under the surface among the trees, waiting to surprise the unwary human or dog. Or bear.)

We climbed gently up the trail. The weather was perfect - clear, cool, with sunshine streaming through the trees. Early on, I kept the girls on leash. Maia tends to get way ahead, Meadow way behind. In their older age, Maia especially is less forgiving of rude dogs, especially after being charged yet again by a mean and loose dog in the neighborhood while on a walk last week. I can't simply explain to Maia that these dogs assume she and Meadow are wolves who need to be attacked. All she seems to take from the encounters is that her best defense is a strong offense, and she now assumes all strange dogs are out to get her. Very sad. I've decided it's best to keep her on leash, rewarding her with treats when she doesn't react to strange dogs.

This spot always brings to mind a moss-covered cathedral. The only sort of church I "worship" in - on a forest trail, dogs allowed.

Ha! I finally caught Meadow - on camera - doing her boy-style peeing! Tough girl, my Meadow. It looks terribly uncomfortable, but I guess it tells the rest of the world she's a dog not to be messed with. A real bitch.

Maia was nervous as we rounded Tibbets Marsh, the small pond barely seen through the foliage behind her. Her tail dropped and she kept stopping and looking off through the trees. A bear, perhaps; certainly the same body language she has always displayed when she smelled one nearby. I paid attention, to her and our surroundings. She's never steered me wrong, my Maia.

Meadow perked up a bit, noticing Maia's body language. But by this point, Maia's tail was back up (and in Meadow's face), so all was well.

Meadow; such a pretty girl.

A walk through the woods with the girls is a different experience than a run. I notice the woodpecker hard at work on a tree high above us. I listen to the tweetering of the songbirds. I look to see what the girls notice, with their eyes, ears, and noses. I watch - with dismay - as Meadow dives and rolls in something on the trail. I've loved every run the girls and I have shared, but I equally love these hikes as they slow down in their senior years. It's all good.

There's something so life-affirming, seeing new fern growth unfurling and reaching for the sun after a long, cold winter's sleep. Things are so lush on the mountain right now.

This photo was a mistake. I was trying to turn the camera off, but accidentally hit the shutter button instead. Turned out to be an interesting photo of the forest canopy. I'm sure that woodpecker is up there somewhere.

Meadow figured if I was so interested in the damn ferns, perhaps there was something worth investigating. Nope. Nothing of worth to a dog, anyway.