Subtitle: The hawk, the porcupine, and the beavers.
Yesterday morning, our 2nd day of this trip, we walked through a field of grasses and thorny rose bushes, lines with small, cattailed ditches and culverts. Cooper did a much better job out in this more open and somewhat flatter field. He ranged ahead of Russ and quartered the field, looking for birds.
Rio did the same job for Rod, working out front, searching for birds.
Alas, no birds.
So after lunch, we headed over to the much prettier and more dramatic Upper Goose Lakes. The terrain is much like what we saw Friday at Lower Goose — basalt cliffs, strings of small ponds, Russian olive trees, and sage brush — totally non-urban scenery. But the action was quite a bit more dramatic.
The first incident was with the ducks and the goshawk.
As were walking down the hill toward the first series of lakes, we saw ducks sitting in the water. So Rod, Renae, Russ and I quietly made our way down to the base of the canyon. Renae and I held the dogs while the Rod and Russ crept toward the lake, hoping to surprise the ducks. And surprise them they did. In a flurry of flapping wings, the ducks flew away from the two gunners, who got off several shots.
All of a sudden, a goshawk swept in from nowhere and grabbed one of the ducks. In the hawk’s talons, the duck struggled in mid-air. After a few minutes, the hawk dropped the duck into another pond. We thought about sending the dogs after the duck, but by then, the duck had managed to hide itself in the cattails at the water’s far edge. That would have made a 200+ yard blind retrieve in cold water and then tangled cattails. We decided not to pursue it, and walked on.
And then there was the porcupine.
I wrote in my last post about Tooey’s love for the water. Whenever she disappeared, we could pretty much count on finding her in the nearest pond, stream, or culvert. So, when Tooey disappeared for the fifth time today, we knew where she was — in the pond next to the path where we were walking.
Suddenly, we heard a low, long growl. Renae looked up and said, “Get her out of there now!”
I called “Here!”, and thankfully, Tooey came — her face decorated with porcupine quills. I held her muzzle, and Russ wrapped his legs around her body and pulled quills out of her nose and lips, and even a couple out of her tongue. She flinched as each one was pulled out, but let us do it. (I was so concentrated on getting those quills out that I didn’t snap a photo.)
And as soon as we let her go, she charged right back into the cattails, determined to GET that porcupine. As they said in the movie, she’s got grit.
I called her out. She didn’t come. I whistled her out, and for a moment, I thought I’d have to go in after her. But out she came, got her chicken jerky reward, and then looked back at the cattails, asking permission to go back in. “No. Leave it. Let’s go,” I said. She came with me, but whenever we came to a new patch of cattails, she turned her head toward them, telling me that that’s where she wanted to head.
And lastly, the beavers.
We saw lots of evidence of beavers. Renae found a beaver skull, and then Russ found the matching mandible close by. That came home with us, to be used in some future art project. We also saw lots of beaver dams. And had the benefit of being able to cross a couple of the ponds by walking on the top of a couple of the dams. They looked sort of iffy, seeing as how they were made out of cattails, but turned out to be amazingly sturdy.
After several hours, we could see that the sun would be going down soon, so we headed back, sans birds. Toward the very end, Cooper started to limp. He’d gotten sore feet the day before, with the skin between the pads looking a bit inflamed. But we’d put some antibiotic protective cream on them and in the morning they’d looked fine.
We’d put some more cream on his feet in the morning and again before our afternoon at Upper Goose. And all day, he showed no sign of discomfort at all, until that last climb back up the canyon sides to the parking lot. That’s when we saw how red and angry the skin between his feet had become.
He spent the rest of the day resting, and rested again during the whole 6-hour drive home today. This evening, he’s limping a bit like an old man, poor dog. I’ll clean his feet with cool water, put some herbal lotion on them, give him some Rescue Remedy, and keep him quiet. If it doesn’t get better, we’ll be off to the vet. And in any case, I’ll have to see what I can do to prevent this from happening on our next hunting trip.