Sunday, January 16, 2011

Snowshoeing, Mt. Hood

On December 28, we (my brother, sister and I) took all three dogs up to the mountain to go snowshoeing. This trip up to the mountains necessitated the use of our 1980's Subaru which, while it is our best car in it's ability to handle in the snow and ice, is also a relatively small car, especially when it is crammed with three people, three dogs, and snow gear for everyone. We parked in a lot located above the lake we were planning to snowshoe around and let the dogs out. Kita and Maia - who have been to this lake with us before - recognized the area as soon as we opened the car doors and were immediately ready to head out on the trail. Buddy was another matter. The first thing he realized when he jumped out of the car was that he was standing in snow. This is NOT what he had in mind when he realized we were going for a road trip. He probably figured we were going to the beach - or, at the worst, going camping. Snow, in Buddy's mind, is simply rain, but colder. He is not a fan. Why Kita seems to love it so much is a complete mystery to Buddy. I'm sure Buddy would have been more than happy had we gotten back into the car and gone home right then and there. No such luck.

We got everyone suited up - winter gear and snowshoes for us, coats for Kita and Maia, and a coat on top of a sweater for Buddy - and headed out. (I should perhaps mention that I did make an effort to keep Maia and Buddy's feet warm with little boots, but they managed to get them off in a matter of minutes so we had to leave them in the car or risk losing them in acres of snow.) We let Kita off leash within minutes of heading out on the trail and he had a blast. He loves the snow and was off and running as soon as his leash was off. You would never know from looking at him then, that he is suffering from arthritis. The only sign that he wasn't feeling as good as he once did was that he stuck to the trail instead of going off into the woods like he had the last time we were up at the mountains, several years ago. He made an attempt early on in our walk to go into the deeper snow but soon abandoned that and stayed where the snow was already packed down.

Maia is a bit less dependable when it comes to behaving while off leash so we waited until we were down near the lake before we let her off leash. Once off, she behaved relatively well although her hearing tended to be a bit selective when we asked her not to wander so far ahead. Maia also seems to think that everyone wants to pet her. Whenever we let her off leash (say at the dog park or on the beach) she spends all her time running up to all the people to see if they want to pet her. This presented something of a problem while we were snowshoeing in that as soon as she saw a cross country skier coming, she would run over and sit down in the ski tracks, right in front of the skiers. Fortunately, she is cute enough that no one seemed to get too annoyed at her, and we were usually able to get her out of the way quickly enough.

Buddy was the last to be let off leash. To be honest, I wasn't even sure we were going to let him off at all, given his track record. He comes when called well enough but becomes overexcited around other dogs and has a tendency to bite whoever is within reach: unknown dogs, Kita, Maia... me. Being well aware of this fact, we kept his muzzle on him for the first half of the hike in case we ran into any other dogs on the trail. (Note: we do not like to muzzle Buddy, but it is sometimes the best option for his safety and everyone else's, and we use a soft muzzle and always take it off if he seems hot or if there are no dogs around to rile him.) At any rate, halfway through the hike we found a quiet area where we could take off his muzzle and let him off leash. As Buddy loves to chase balls, we scooped up handfuls of snow and took turns throwing snowballs for him. He loved being able to really run for the first time in a long time (being confined to running up and down our hallway as he cannot yet be trusted at the dog park) and he chased snowball after snowball, but was always somewhat confused when he couldn't seem to distinguish the snowballs from the snow it landed in. He had fun, at any rate, and might not be too terribly disappointed the next time we decide to go snowshoeing, although he was quite happy to snuggle under a blanket in the car on the way home - he is, after all, still Buddy and, as such, is a creature of comfort.

Above are some of the pictures we took during our trip - see how happy the dogs are? I love it when they're happy.

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