Friday, May 16, 2014

Susie The Airedale My Trail Companion Part II

Dale Matson

Susie Cooling Down
(Click Photographs For A Larger View)
Susie is really a ‘cool weather’ dog. There are two problems that arise in the summer. She needs to be on a lead while on the trails. She is only too willing to chase any animal she sees. If she were off lead, she would run and run and get lost and never come back. She is like the DEW line (Distant Early Warning). I may not be aware of an animal but I can even tell what kind of animal is around by how she reacts. She has tried to chase coyotes, deer and even pack Llamas. She gets less excited by mules and horses but a lizard causes her to lunge hard enough to strain a biceps tendon. She has also barked and growled at animals we have never seen, perhaps bears or mountain lions. Thanks Susie.

Susie And I Were Surprised By The Llamas

A second reason she is a cool weather dog is that she does not like warm feet. Even in the mountains in summer, the trail surface is hot for her feet. As the day warms, she begins a silly dance as if she is walking on hot coals. Her feet are not being burned but she is simply a pansy about it. I have seen other dogs on the trail that don't seem to even notice the warm trails. Now Fresno at noon in the summer is not the place you want to walk a dog on asphalt.

She has never done well with dog “booties” and lost two in the muck of Edison Lake the day after I bought them for her, so much for that idea. Carrying a dog pack is too hot for her, at least that’s what she has led us to believe. We carry extra water and treats for her.

Drama Queen On A Warm Spring Day Near Kaiser Peak

Susie Plowing Through Deep Powder

Icy ponds and streams are just fine with her and she will jump in for a drink at the drop of a hat. I have always kept in mind that she could fall into a tree well in winter and carry a 30’ nylon strap.

The greatest fun for us is in the winter when she and her younger brother go off leash and run free. They love to flip on their backs and make Airedale Snow Angels. When the snow is chest deep or deeper, we can keep up with them when we are on skis. Eventually, they get tired of running here and there and follow the trail we create in the snow with our skis. When there is too much snowfall at one time, the powder is simply too deep even for skis and certainly too deep for dogs with no skis. I have often wondered how the coyotes get around in the deep powder.

Baldy Lookout Seven Miles From Tamarack Trailhead

The scariest time for us was one spring when Tamarack Creek opened up and the snow no longer provided a bridge over it. The banks were two feet high but the snowpack added four more feet. Susie saw some ducks in the creek and jumped in after them. Much to her surprise, there was no way out for her. I was able to lasso her and pull her over the bank to safety before she got hypothermia.

Susie In Trouble In Tamarack Creek

MU 52 On Duty 24/7

It is times like this when a pet is a companion. Airedales appear to be less intelligent but it is really because they are more willful than other dogs. Susie is not funny at home but on trails, she makes me laugh and laugh.

Here is a Youtube video I made of Susie and her younger (but bigger) brother in the backcountry snow.

1 comment:

  1. Susie is now 12 years old and we still do our daily walks together. We usually do about 3-4 miles at the local park. The trails at elevation are too difficult for her now and her human companion is not doing much better but still managing to do the trails at a slower pace.