Photos and text copyright Romping and Rolling in the Rockies 2009-2014.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Yes, responsible dog guardians exist

Yesterday afternoon, K and I went "exploring" together. We went to an area that is mostly north-facing so we found only small shafts of sunlight filtering through the snow-bound forest. K's exuberance was infectious.
We were searching for animal signs to learn which species move through this area in the winter. In some parts of the forest, the wind had whipped the snow off the ground and to some faraway place.
In other areas, the wind had piled the snow knee-deep. K porpoised through that deep snow while wearing a snow beard.
She loves wriggling on wind-packed snow. I think that its crust scratches her back in a way that makes her euphoric.
We found lots of cool tracks in the snow showing us which animals use this area despite it being the coldest and snowiest place I've visited this winter. The elk herd had bedded down in the forest, leaving melted out ovals of snow and lots of scat. It looked like about 50 elk had slept close together. We saw almost no deer sign, and absolutely no coyote, mountain lion, or bobcat sign. Many small animals, including rabbits and squirrels had left tracks - it must be a safe place for those small animals with few predators lurking in the shadows.

Near the end of our hike, I spotted a fat and heavily furred rabbit and called K to me so she wouldn't bother him. She ignored him and bounded to me. Her three-toed paw is very obvious in this photo.
She stood calmly by my side while I took photos of the cute lagomorph. At first, he pinned his ears against his body, trying to be invisible.
Then, he began to realize that we weren't a threat and his ears perked up a little as he gave us a querulous look.
Finally, as we started to walk away, he looked gregarious. I imagine that he has a long, cold, and lonely winter in his rocky and snowy home. We were probably his first visitors in months. What a cute little guy!
This morning, I found a barrage of emails in my inbox concerning a nearby city's open space regulations. A vocal group wants dogs banned from as many parts of the land as possible. They lump all dog owners into the 'evil and irresponsible' category, a tendency that makes me sad and angry. I'm not attempting to claim that every dog owner is a saint - but it's also not true that every dog owner is irresponsible or that every dog is out of control. But, this group is so vocal that dogs are losing the right to walk on many trails in the city's open space.

My blood pressure dropped a few notches as I pedaled with K by my side to see the sun rise on our quiet and empty national forest land high above the city. I've noticed that the sun is cresting the eastern hills more to the north since the winter solstice. The best viewing spot has moved... substantially. Yes, springtime will occur again this year.
K stood atop a boulder near me surveying the land at sunrise. I think that she smelled the elk herd who grazed in a meadow below us. No, she did not chase them.
Her chocolate fur blazed almost red against the clear blue sky in the light of the rising sun.
If the rules and regulations from the nearest city ever reach our outpost, I'm moving. I simply couldn't live without my dogs on the trails with me. I should emphasize that I take my responsibility as their guardian extremely seriously. I work hard to train my dogs to be decent citizens who won't harass wildlife. And, when I think that we're in a situation where they might not be able to control themselves, I leash them. I know that I'm not the only one who is so careful. Why is every debate so polarized as "us versus them" these days?

Of course, it's a different world up here in the mountains than down in the city. K and I didn't see a single person or dog during our hike yesterday afternoon or our bike ride this morning. I like it that way.

We did see signs that our wildlife had been active overnight. Somehow, this deer with a broken antler managed to awaken R in the middle of the night and send him into a frenzy of barking. Are deer really loud enough to wake up a dog through closed windows?

27 comments:

Khyra And Sometimes Her Mom said...

Yet another post of INCREDIBLE pics!-

I'm sure just looking at them again and again will help the blood pressure -

We got around 4-6" - hard to know for sure - my dad in Millersville got 11" or so - and we heard West Chester got 20" or so -

I hope your dad wasn't too inconvenienced -

nancyturtle said...

Is that another pair of eyes behind the deer?

KB said...

NancyTurtle: Good eye! You're right, I think. A couple of frames later, another deer appeared in the background. I bet that you spotted his eyes in the frame that I showed in the post.

houndstooth said...

K certainly looks in her element out there! What a happy girl she is! You know, I never notice the missing toe until you point it out.

I would be really upset if they restricted dogs in our state parks further than they do. I can definitely understand your feelings!

I don't think the owl at our house is roosting. It seems to only stay in the awning when it's bitter cold out. Now that we're in the balmy thirties again, I haven't seen it out there in a couple of days. I have heard it trill, and that matches some audio I found online for Western Screech Owls, but I haven't heard one screech.

Stella said...

So, KB, you think you were Mrs. Buns first visitors in many cold months? Should I be worried about you?

Cheers and hugs,

Jo and Stella

rottrover said...

Love how the bunny relaxed as K stayed calm...She's really an amazing girl!

Pepsi the Lazy Bum said...

Amazing peektures! Love the bunny, so adorable! I certainly hope the rules of banning dogs on walk don't reach you.

Woofs,
Pepsi

Siku Marie, White Dog said...

The wonderful thing about nature (and you capture it so well) is the balance, the wondrous dance of equilibrium.

Humans seem to have difficulty achieving that; we seem to love the drama of the extremes. It is all or nothing...

emilene said...

Your photos are spectacular! It really is wonderful to see her so active again, what a truly special dog!

Hope you have a lovely weekend!

Tank said...

I've been tempted to ask how you're able to rise so early to hike and bike every morning, but your pictures tell the story. The sunrise shots are breathtaking and K literally lights up as she's kissed by the early light. Gorgeous!

Angus said...

What has got the vocal anti-dog group so exercised ? Seems a most unlikely issue for folks to get steamed up about .

Mr Koda MD said...

GRRRR those anti dog activist people make me angry!

Its the responsible owners that bear the brunt of it!

Great photos, love your header!

kks said...

love your new camera!
the bunny is super cute, hope he's not that curious with a bobcat!
anti dog people are just plain crazy.....
have a great weekend...
xoxo

Wanda..... said...

In the 'three-toed paw' photo...K looks like a little puppy and her eyes in the snow-beard photo are mesmerizing. All your photos could be a posters for pleading the case of responsible running free!

Kristin G. said...

I noticed the extra pair if eyes behind the deer too. I was glad to learn it wasn't a predator. Fantastic photos of your girl here!! I loved the bunny too. Have a great day!

The Heartbeats said...

AW sweet bunny! I want to squeeze him! Your pictures are always beautiful! K is quite the ham!

mamma heartbeat

Mr. Pip said...

What an adorable little bunny. I sure hope he stays safe this winter, away from the coyotes.

Your pal, Pip

Louise said...

That bunny is just adorable. And, I was very impressed at how well K obeyed you. She is, indeed, a well trained dog.

Horse people face a similar problem. Riding trails all over the country are being denied to horses, even when it was the horse owners who created and maintained them. They're too messy and dirty, don't you know?

One of the trails I walk on is open to horses, and when I come to a plop, I kick it to the side, so that the non-horsey don't step in it by accident. I don't have horses any more, but I know how you feel about being out in the open along with your animal.

You were right, by the way, about my back/leg. I went for a walk yesterday, and felt much better after it.

AC said...

I love all the back-wiggle shots you've been catching of K! Looks like such reckless abandon!

Access issues can become so polarized. I feel lucky that I live on the National Park side of the city as dogs aren't aloud on State Park Trails at all (state parks make up the range on the other side of the city).

I sometimes find myself clumping dog owners as irresponsible because I hate dealing with the "sour apples" on our busy frontcountry trails. It's a good reminder that there are responsible owners too.

Maybe it would be a better use of energy to promote better education and "infrastructure" for dog owners instead of outright banning. While some folks may never change, others may not realize the impact their dogs have on wildlife and other users (ex: yes your dog is friendly, but he still shouldn't approach other people or dogs without permission), or haven't a clue how to train them to leave less of an impact on the trails. Around here, I know trashcans could go a long way to encourage owners to pick up after their dogs. That's a big issue here on high-use trails but it takes a lot to toss a bag of dog poop in your trunk because there aren't any cans at the trailhead...

AC said...

PS-Forgot to say...

I sure hope you never have to think of moving because of restrictions but I sooo know what you mean! I turned down a job offer because the open space in the area did not allow dogs...just isn't an option for me either!

Tom, Tama-Chan, Sei-Chan and Bibi-Chan said...

We just love the photo of K rolling in the snow!

Re-he problem with dog access, a similar trend is being seen in part of Europe. The approach of punishing all dog owners because a few behave badly is rather similar to the idea of imposing a curfew on all teenagers in a town or city because a few might make trouble. Patently discriminatory and ridiculous.

sophie...^5 said...

Dog Access....AC has a good point there re: (ex: yes your dog is friendly, but he still shouldn't approach other people or dogs without permission)....Sophie is so friendly and does approach all people. We do walk her in an off-leash area of the park so it`s understood that dogs will be free..so with this premise Sophie has socialized a lot. Now that I think about it..it`s time to(never too late) train her in asking for permission. I never want to be one of those dog owners who appears to be irresponsible. She is responding so well now to training for other things so I will include this in her regimen. Tks

the booker man said...

what a cute bunny! i love the sequence of him realizing that K wasn't going to bother him. K is such a good girl!
with regard to dog access -- we have a dam near my house with a wonderful 4 mile walkway. dogs were recently banned from walking here because of a handful of owners that wouldn't pick up after their dog's business. it's such a shame. i think the community would be better served if these irresponsible people would be ticketed instead of punishing all dog owners.

the booker man and asa's mama

Benny and Lily said...

Some buddy is peeking out behind the deer. We always love your pictures of K
Benny & Lily

mayziegal said...

Awww...that bunny is SO cute! I try to make furends with the bunnies in the back yard but they're not interested.

And oh my dogness! Don't even gets my mom started on peoples who think that all dogs and dog owners are the same. You can prolly guess that it kind of make steam come out her ears. (NOT a good look for her, trust me.)

Oh, and I wanted to thank you ALL for coming to my Commentathon Pawty yesterday! It was oodles of fun and I couldn't have done it without your help!

Wiggles & Wags,
mayzie

Tweedles -- that's me said...

KB
No you must not think that the bunny is cold. I have been in the thicket and I know how cozy the bunny dens are. And they have nice warm coats.. Just one thing they are missing- carrots.. Can you take them some carrots?

Oh the splendorious photos of your world. I never want to stop appreciating them. I wish I could come with you- to watch one sunrise.
K and R make my heart sing..
thank you for sharing them with us.

i really think humans are the ones who destroy the land- not dogs.
human use needs to be regulated I think...
well that is what I think,, and I also think- those people who point their skinny fingers at dogs, have too much time on their hands
love
tweedles

ForPetsSake said...

That little rabbit is just beautiful - you're right about his lonliness. he was probably pleased to have company that wasn't interested in eating him!

Sorry you are dealing with that unpleasantness. On the other hand, K looks like the picture of healthy - the red rising phoenix!