Snow Angel

Snow Angel

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Memory of Nordic Skiing: A PHOTO ARRAY

   Last Christmas my mom took me nordic skiing for the first time.  We were all newbies.  You see, my mom and dad had never gone nordic skiing either.  They bought themselves an early Christmas present of new gear and we went EVERYDAY over Christmas break. 
Round Meadows, Whitefish, Montana 2011

     The area we go to is an off-leash nordic area that is groomed every couple of days by snow mobiles!  Sometimes I see them coming at me on the trail and I hide behind my dad's legs.  I am only brave when mom and I are by ourselves.  Dad is strong.  He'll take care of her.  I'm off duty then.  I must say that, right off the bat, I was significantly better than my dad was at nordic skiing. 

Battle wound 1
  It really shouldn't matter that Dad received the wound because he swerved to avoid landing on me.  I would have moved.  He is a little OVERPROTECTIVE.  I kissed away the pain with my tongue and off we were again to be a happy fake pro-skier family. 

Fake nordic pro photo 1
   My mom laughed a lot as she tried to mangle her way down the few steep hills.  She made fun of Dad's battle wounds and gave me lots of peanut butter treats.  We would occasionally run into a few other families that were nordic skiing with their pups.  I made sure the prance by them with an extra little bounce because I was quickly becoming their competition.  WATCH OUT!  Okay, well... we could still take nice photos. 

   After a nice four mile loop and what seemed like hundreds of potty marks later...we found our car.  I couldn't wait to go nordic skiing again.  When mom took her skis off, I sat on them.  Are we really done?  I could go forever.  Dad had to lift me into the car because of all the running I had done on the four mile loop.  Mom said I went at least triple the distance.  I was so ready to go again...I....I.....YAWWWWNNNNNNN.

I'm still just is shown in a different way
   It was a great trip.  I remember every minute of it, well, except for the ride home.  Small detail. 

Ski with you later!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunbathing Amidst a Frigid Kansas Morning

   It was twenty three degrees when I woke up this morning.  I went outside to go to the bathroom and I felt my hair standing up in chilled goosebumps on my back.  I tucked my tail between my legs to run in a quick circle. Dad laughed and called me a baby, but he's the one wearing the North Face coat.  BABY? 
  I went back into the house to bask in the small amount of sunshine creeping through the shades.  My mom opened them all the way to let in the LIGHT.  I thought back to the first time I felt the sun's warmth.  
   I was nine weeks old when I got to go sun bathing for the first time.  The sun absorbed into my black coat like light absorbs darkness.  I was becoming so light.  My mom spread out her towel and told me my newest command.  Which I DID NOT UNDERSTAND AND FOUND UTTERLY BORING.  The laydown command was awful.  It meant stay down until I tell you to and I hated it.  But this time it was very relaxing.

 The sun was massaging me and the water was rocking to to sleep on the dock.  When my mom called me to go with her up to the house, I stayed put.  I didn't want to leave this dock.  It became my favorite place at the lake house. 

Sunbathing 101

     Thinking back to my puppy days is always fun.  The sun in the house is relaxing too.  The patch of sun doesn't do justice to the lake, but it is a piece of peace amidst a frigid Kansas morning.  I'm going to take a nap, but I'll see you tomorrow!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oh so Thankful! Woof!

We are still resting up after Thanksgiving!  I'll start writing tomorrow!  We had some great company and some really fun adventures!  Bark with you soon!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Great Northern: The best hike in Montana

     Two July's ago I went on a hike that I will never forget.  I think it was the first time I saw a mountain goat and the first time my legs shook from fatigue after a hike.  The climb itself is only four miles, but the first mile and a half you gain almost two thousand vertical feet.  My hind quarters were burning as I climbed the trail in front of my family.  Mom kept me close because the grizzlies often used the trail to travel up and down between the summit and the river that weaved its way to Hungry Horse Reservoir below.    After we climbed the two miles we came out of the trees and I knew that the whole day was going to be unlike anything I have ever done before.  It was stunning.  

Hungry Horse Reservoir
A view of the climb to come

    The remaining two miles of the hike were above the treeline.  I led my family on the trail that weaved in between boulders and overlooked rocky descents unlike anything I'd ever seen.  I watched as two mountain goats descended the vertical cliff without hesitation.  I glanced at my paws.  I could never do that.  These animals could survive up here eating the small amount of lichen growing between the crevices.  I was very thankful my mom had packed my dog food.  I decided to travel right in front of her on the trail.  I didn't want to be too far away if she needed me...or IF I NEEDED HER.

The last mile

    We got up early that morning because if we would have started the hike too late, the wind would have wiped us off the mountain like we were dandelion seeds.  It was only nine, but my stomach growled as if it were noon.  I gently nudged my mom's hand.  She said, "Do you want water?" but I didn't want water.  When the family stopped for a snack and I drooled for the sandwich, my mom finally understood.  She removed my red travel bowl from her pack and dropped in a cup of my Nature's Recipe.  I gobbled it down and then she filled it to the brim with water.  I was hungry and thirsty.  The elements take a lot of you, especially above the treeline. 

     An hour after snack we trekked up the rocky face on a narrow goat trail that followed the ten foot wide ridgeline.  My mom tied a rope onto my harness to make sure the wind couldn't blow us off.  I stayed dead center on the ridgeline, intending to anchor both of us in case of emergency.   Through a small hole in the mountain's side I viewed the glacier.  It swept below us engulfing the entire north side of the mountain.  It looked like it would be the most fun to play in, but I knew that once I touched the snow I would slide down into the rocks below and be unable to stop.  I am thankful for my instincts.  Without them, I am not sure if I would know just how to protect my family.  We summited three hours and forty minutes after leaving the car almost 3800 feet below us.  My mom helped me touch the summit post so it was official.  Our time at the summit was brief.  The wind pulled at my cheeks and slobber blew from my face.  I felt how tired my back legs were. 

My summit

     We snapped a few photos with my mom, dad, and I. 
Myself, Mom, and Dad 2010

Then my mom took some pictures with my grandpa.  I did a quick 360 turn to witness what I might never witness again.  I was a small dot amidst a great picture of wonder.

The glacier

  "It's time to go Kootenai," my mom tugged at my leash. 

    As I started to head down I was surprised to find the trip down was more challenging that the ascent.  The rock gave way beneath my paws and the wind pushed at my backside.  I felt as though the mountain was going to eat me.  I pretended I was a goat and my paws became more stable.  Four long miles of later, we reached the car.  My mom and dad kissed me and I knew that I was going to get a nice massage later.  They gave me a treat and lifted me into the car.  I was too tired to jump.  I will never forget that hike.  If you ever go to Montana don't miss out on this hike of a lifetime.  It will rock your world. 

Hike with you later,


Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Month Till an Exciting Bath Day!!

    Today I went to Brookside Barkery in Overland Park, Kansas and received my once a month (unfortunate) bath.  Since my mom is allergic to the pollen and allergens that stick to my coat...I am forced to be tortured.  Some parts of it aren't so bad though.  When I finish I always get a doggie garlic bagel.  YUMMY!  I drool during the entire drying process because I know what is coming!  Brookside makes the best bagels!  I also sleep really well the night after a bath.  I SNORE the whole night and my mom and dad laugh at me. My mom says my coat is shiny.  I guess it looks a little bit nice.
Shiny coat after bath day!

         My next bath will be next month....ONLY TWO DAYS BEFORE I GET TO GO SEE SCRAPPY AND FAMILY!  Scrappy is my sister and I love playing tug of war and chase.  She is the top dog of the house and I am always making her a little growly, but I know I am just the annoying little sister.  She LOVES ME!  She just gets her whiskers bumped a little when she has to share her people with me.  I know she loves me because she SOMETIMES ON RARE OCCASIONS snuggles up to me on my bed and falls asleep next to her sister.  See you in a month Scrappy!  Love your sissy!

Me and my sissy

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mud Baths

      The best part of my mom and dad giving me a bath every month is that I have a full thirty days (in between baths) to make sure I get as dirty as possible.  My mom sprays me with perfume, so it doesn't matter how badly I smell when I come home from the dog park.  So if you are utterly disgusted at this point, or if you are the dog that rolls in another dog's poop...let me tell you that is NOT ME.  I like to roll in DARK STICKY GOOEY MUD that resembles poop, but doesn't contain any fecal matter.  Sometimes the water I choose to drink in ponds contains fecal matter and I end up with giardia, but my mom and dad are experts at treating that.  I prefer the nasty brown puddles to the nice ice water my parents pack for me while hiking.  Life's all about choices, ya know?

My first mud puddle.  Nine weeks

      Sometimes mom calls me sassy.  I don't know if I would classify myself as sassy, but perhaps classy.  When I go to the dog parks all the boy dogs follow me around like I'm the bomb diggity  (I heard  that while watching Animal Planet.) and I only tease the boys who can catch me when I sprint at my top notch gear.  The more mud and muck you have on you, the better for two reasons:  1)dogs are less likely to be able to latch onto you with their teeth because you are slippery and 2) all the dogs want to know exactly what you have been rolling in.  It's like nature's perfume.  I camouflage my dirt quite nicely because I am black.  Mom doesn't know how dirty I am until she wipes off my legs at the door and the red towel turns black.  I just wag my tail and run into the house displaying my paw art on their white carpeting.  I am a very talented artist.  Especially when I start throwing my muddy tennis ball around. 

    Got to go.  Mom is getting out the brush and the perfume.  It's only three days from my next bath so I am in a hopeless situation of perfume every day.  At least she brought some treats.

Hike with you later!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Big Sky Country: A Dog Poem

If heaven is a place
Big Mountain, Montana 2011

It's a place just like this.

If heaven is an idea
It's a freedom just like this.

On the top of this mountain
My paws can touch sparkling crystal sky.

On the top of this mountain
If I could choose the place, this is the place I would go to die.

In the place where mountain and sky meet
I hear the echoes of thunder in my heart. 

In the place where mountain and sky meet
I know I have truly played my part.

So as far as my dog heart may roam
So as far as my dog heart may roam

I always remember the heavenly view to find my way back home

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dog Dayz Hike

      Here is a great hike near Red Lodge, Montana for the dogs out there that want to travel to neat places.  Red Lodge, Montana is right outside of the Beartooth Wilderness about an hour and a half from Billings, Montana.  Rugged mountains surround you when hiking and a dog friendly ski town welcomes you for dinner when your paws are rubbed raw and worn out from your adventures.  The photos from this hike are from Quinnebaugh Meadows on West Fork Road.  It is an off leash trail that has such nice doggies to meet while hiking! 

Quinnebaugh Meadows, Red Lodge, Montana 2010

     My mom and dad brought me up here winter and summer.  In the summer we would hike near the rushing stream and in the winter we would nordic ski in the deep snow.  Sometimes we would go swimming in the beautiful crisp, cool mountain lakes.   I would swim after the ducks for hours as mom and dad skipped rocks on the shore.  (I miss the mountain lakes.)   One time I was nose to nose with a duck.  I didn't know what to do when he didn't fly away.  So I gave him a big kiss on the nose and he chased me like he was the dog and I was the duck.  I guess he was having a bad day or was in denial of his identity.  Stupid duck.  Anyway....  That's a tale for another day.  This is a picture of my dad and I. He wasn't aware I was going to be in it until the last moment.  Haha!

I always know where the camera is!

     My favorite part about this beautiful hike were the beautiful boulders I could climb to become Queen of the Mountains.  I love to be the highest thing around and there were more boulders than my mom could count.

 The hike itself follows a stream, so my mom and dad didn't have to carry a zillion bottles of water for me on their backs.  (When they aren't carrying water they are a little faster when hiking.  I always want to go faster!)  The meadow is about two miles up on the hike, but you can keep going a total of twelve more miles.  Several backpacking places exist for the avid outdoorsmen mom and dads!  My mom and dad love to backpack with me and my Ruffwear backpacking bed.  !    If you do take this hike, don't pass up driving the world famous Beartooth Highway and spending a day with the down home dog lovers of Red Lodge, Montana. 

Hike with you later!  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Long Day When Mom and Dad are Working

I contemplate exactly how long they will be gone.

Too long....

I find something I am "allowed" to do....  :(

But after awhile, bacon is utterly boring. 

I sometimes play hide and seek by myself.

BUT...I can only scare myself so much.

I try to grab some much needed rest after my mind has been hard at work.

But I don't sleep very well when I am not on my Mom's feet.


I decide I will make a last attempt of making my cutest face in order to make them leave work to come home and love up on me. 


My mom and Dad come home to give me hugs and kisses.  It's time to go to the dog park!  I hope tomorrow is Saturday?! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Training to Hike

     One of my favorite things to do is hike!  I always know when my mom and dad are going because they take out the backpacks and my collapsable waterbowl.  I've been hiking with my mom since I was nine weeks old.  When my mom adopted me, my dad was in Salt Lake City working and hiking every weekend.  My mom was hiking in Montana every weekend with me.
     When I was nine weeks old, I couldn't go very far.  My mom wanted to make sure my hips were protected and my paws wouldn't get too sore.  By the time I was eleven weeks old, I had tough paws and muscular back legs.  Since my mom lived by National Forest land, we were able to go hike on logging roads every day in the middle of nowhere!  After hiking, my mom would take me to work with her.  I would stay in my crate at the sporting goods store until my mom had a lunch break, then I would go walk during her lunch hour.  She would always make sure I was so tired before I went back into my crate.  After work she would take me on another walk.  By the end of the day I was so tired that I could hardly keep my eyes open.
   My first real hike with elevation gain was a four mile hike past a blue waterfall and into a marshy lake.  We saw deer, kids, and fisherman.  I made it all the way to the top by myself.  I didn't want to get left behind.  My mom gave me treats and fed me halfway so that I had more energy.  Two miles in, we reached the top of the mountain.  My mom helped me to go swimming in the lake.  She always went in first and called me to her.  She knew I didn't like water all that much.  (Not yet!) 
Lupine Lake, Montana

11 weeks old

   I am now a great hiker and can go farther than my mom and dad can.  I think I have become the cheerleader my mom used to be.  I always go down the trail first and wait about ten feet ahead until my mom and dad catch up.  When they finally get there, I sprint ahead to wait again.  They really need to get in better shape! 

Here are some of my mom's best tips for teaching a young pup great hiking traits.  They worked great for me!  They'll work great for your pup too!

1)  Do not be the overly paranoid owner who is constantly worried about how far your puppy is from you.  As an owner, you are a leader.  You need to lead in the direction you want to go.  You do not want to follow your puppy to go pick them up and bring them closer. 

2)  Only call your dog when it is absolutely necessary!   What does this mean?  It means DO NOT call your dog unless your dog is in a dangerous position where its life is at risk.  There is a time and an age to work on recall.  A small pup can learn a basic command, but it needs to be in an enclosed area with postive praise and precise rewards. 

3)  Watch your puppy carefully and know the pup's limits.   You want a hike to be a fun and loving experience.  If your puppy is sitting down a lot and laying in the shade after going over a mile, it's probably tired.  Overworking your pup is not the answer to getting an in-shape mountain dog.
Too tired to walk

4)  Every pup has a check in signal.  Kootenai's signal involves her turning her head and waiting for me to acknowledge her.  I usually say, "Okay."  Her head turn is a check in to see if she is doing what I expect her to do.  My "okay" tells her that I see her and that she is behaving acceptably.  Not all pups use the same check in.  Some dogs will come all the way back to touch an owners hand.  Some dogs will sit on the trail.  Other dogs will walk behind you a few steps.  Watch your pup carefully.  They are trying to do it just need to acknowledge the check in.  This check signal will continue throughout life if acknowledged. 

5)  Take your pup out off leash as often as possible.  I know many trainers believe that you should leave a dog on leash until the dog is fully trained.  I tend to disagree with this statement.  If you are in a location where the pup could be in danger (near cars, raging rivers, road bikes) then your pup should be on a leash.  If you are in an area like a fenced in park or National Forest area, let your dog off leash!  The dog's stress level significantly decreases and the dog is able to please you!  This is what every dog wants to do.  The biggest mistake is leaving your young pup on leash until they are six months old.  Don't make it exciting to be off leash.  Make it normal!
Big Mountain, Montana

    Those are some of my mom's best tips for those of you wanting to raise and active and agile hiking pup! Hike with you later! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Missing Montana

   The breath goes in, out.  It's getting more desperate.  It's increasing speed. I look down over my left paw.  A two thousand foot drop of rock and scatterred shrubs fill my vision.  I see two mountain goats climbing down, skidding here and there.  My instinct says run, but I know I can't go there.  I can't do that.  I do know that I can climb higher than my mom and dad, though.  I can outrun them.  I could run away into this wilderness and have the time of my life chasing squirrels, catching mice, and swimming after wild ducks, but I don't.  I don't because I love my mom and dad.  I know that they are doing the best they can to keep up with me!  I can't wait to reach the top and knock the camera over after the timer goes off because it makes that annoying beeping sound that I hate.  It's really funny to watch my mom and dad running toward me screaming, "NO!  KOOTENAI DO NOT TOUCH THE CAMERA....!"  As I said, they are too slow.  I love to watch it hit the ground.  Kodak makes good products, though.  The camera is still alive after over one hundred hikes with my mom and dad. 

"Kootenai...Kootenai...wake up girl.  What are you dreaming about?"

Yawning, I look around.  I wish the saying, "You're not in Kansas anymore," had some truth to it. 
"Hey pretty girl...time to go for a walk!  Are you hungry?"  Mom races to the closet to grab my shiny silver bowl. 

Okay....even though I am still in Kansas, the food is the same here.   I love my meals.  After my meals and sometimes before, I am taken to the dog parks by my mom and dad.   My mom and dad take me every night because I live in an apartment and need lots of exercise.  They love to take me swimming, running, and biking.  I've decided they are a pretty great family.  Sometimes they take me to the speciality pet stores here in Overland Park to buy me new collars and pretty hand decorated puppy cookies.  I like it here, but I still miss my Montana family and friends.  I have a couple of new friends I have met at the dog park here in Kansas.  One is named Colby.  Colby is a golden retriever who sometimes stays at my house when his mommy and daddy are out of town.  The other one is named Bentley.  He loves to go to Heritage Dog Park with me and chase all of the birds.  He wears me out! 

"Come on Kootenai!  Time to go to the park!" mom grabs my pink John Deere leash.

I have to go now.  I miss my Montana adventures, but I am learning how to have fun here in Kansas.  I know my mom and dad miss the mountains a lot too because they are always trying to plan a trip to the Ozarks and they already took me hiking in Denver.  Until I am able to go back home, I will keep dreaming about my mountain climbing adventures and will share some of them with you on my blog.  I have so many stories to tell you.  Some about hiking with black bears, some about relaxing in nature, and some about how my daddy proposed to my mommy.  ( I almost knocked the ring down the waterfall!  Oops!) to you soon.  Enjoy my first blog!