Wednesday, August 29, 2012


     We were about twelve miles in the woods, two from where we parked the truck, trying to find our way to a particular lake using old logging roads and snowmobile trails. The three dogs were with us, Chara, the oldest German wirehaired pointer not far ahead, Colby, our youngster GWP maybe a hundred yards ahead, and Bella, our crazy Vizsla somewhere between the two. The dogs knew we weren’t hunting but hiking, so mostly they stayed on the trail and only made short forays into the trees.
     After walking almost an hour over a ridge on hot sunny logging roads, we had dropped down into a valley, following a narrow trail through thick hardwoods with a lot of dense understory. Near a stream, Chara trotted off to the left and stopped twenty feet from the path, so I stopped too, thinking grouse.
     Bella noticed Chara stopped, and her usual routine is to bolt toward Chara but then to circle around to pin the bird between the two of them. But instead she stopped almost beside Chara, with the two of them staring into the woods, not in what I would call a bird dog’s point, but with heads held high as if trying to see.
     And then about thirty feet beyond the dogs the bushes shook and something large moved. My first thought was “deer”, because that is what it would have been back home. But I didn’t see a deer and the critter only moved a few feet, what I did catch a glimpse of was something dark, and then I lost sight of it among the leaves. Whatever it was, it had stopped only fifty feet from our dogs.
     Both Sally and I could hear something like an infant moaning not far away. The two dogs never moved. Colby came trotting back and I stopped her with a “whoa”. 
Calling the dogs to come with us, we hurried on our way. 
     My best guess is a bear with a young one. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hot Weather and Dogs

    We are lucky to spend our time in Northern New England in an area where drinking water for the dogs is rarely a concern. Streams are almost everywhere and finding dry footing is a much more common problem. Overheated dogs can die a miserable death, and the weather really doesn’t have to be that hot for it to happen. Staying out of the hottest parts of the day and ample drinking water are their best defense.
    Yesterday the temperatures were only in the upper seventies in the shade, but the sun was very hot. During the morning we hiked up a small mountain north of our place, and the unusually dry weather had dried up all the wet places. In a normal summer, the trail looked like it would be impossible to do without waterproof boots, but instead we tread on hard damp mud.
    The dogs were a concern, particularly after they pointed a partridge and went into hunting overdrive. Tongues were hanging. We calmed them down, but you know how that goes. In one wet spot a moose had walked through and fortunately the footprints had all filled with water. If it hadn’t have been for that spot, which we passed both going and coming, there wouldn’t have been any water for the dogs, except near where our truck was parked.
    The next time we hike where we are not certain of water, we’ll carry them some.