Tuesday, January 30, 2007

HuggaMutt hunts!

What is this, she seems to ask? And you may very well ask. The Mutt is part dachs-hund and part Jack Russell terrier, so there's rather small, floppy ears and the tail points up, rather than the usual doxie's down.
The sweater and skirt are due to the frigid temps. At just about 12 degrees Fahrenheit, or 8-9 Celsius, it is very cold for a small dog tramping through the snow. I take no chances. If it were colder, or if there were a significant wind-chill, she would be wearing her scarf, too.
Incidentally, she hates the clothes, and thinks she looks ridiculous! Gramma has to know for certain that the little one is warm. So let's go hunting.

Ahhh, the follow-through!

Guess she really did find something. There are burrows everywhere underfoot. Ellie's nose knows. We may not see the animals, but she absolutely knows they are there. See the feeder creek in the background. It is frozen through and allows us to walk right across. Frozen through means no cracking whatsoever.

Inviting sight?

Not a track anywhere. Except Ellie's in the fore-ground.

She walks on water.

Only now can Ellie walk on the frozen Chemung River. Not a cracking sound to be heard. Personally, I will wait until I see the tell-tale tracks of the ATV's. Let those fools do the testing.

What people probably expect

when one mentions a frozen river. Here the Chemung is not so ice-choked, as iced over. Very dangerous. See the grey line near the left middle? That is very, very thin, and the water flows very, very fast just under it. A person who falls through would be sucked downriver under the ice. Where he or she would surely die.

But enough happy thoughts. More river below.

Click on "Older Posts."

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Frozen Morning, Noisy Crows

Remember the "Morning Bark" and the "Evening Bark" in 101 Dalmations? All the dogs raised a ruckus that drove the owners nuts. At the same time, the dogs themselves were actually passing along vital news. Let's hope these noisy crows are having a "Morning Caw" and not just raising a ruckus. They're always screaming, every morning.

Frozen Morning, Fallen Tree

This must have made quite a racket when it went down. Right now it creates a wonderful sort of apartment house for all sorts of creatures. Aquatic and land animals probably find shelter all through this. Glad the Water Board doesn't over-manage this area.

Frozen Morning, Deer Rub

This looks normal enough. Until one realizes that we are in the middle of a city. But the deer really do travel right through the neighborhoods at night. They eat everything in their paths. It's worse in the summer, when they nip the tops off our flowers!

Frozen Morning, Chewed Tree

This looks to be an abandoned effort by a gnawer. I would swear it was done by kids, but it is way too low to the ground.

Frozen Morning, Bad Dog

No, they are not evidence of past piddles. I could live with that. These are where HuggaMutt sank into Foster Pond while trying to cross over to another dog on the levee. Fortunately, my whistle called her back right away. She just wants to visit with everyone. But the other dog is viciously barking, and not at all inviting.

Frozen Morning, Joint Effort

This almost certainly is a marriage of human and wild animal efforts.
There is no fallen tree nearby. Of course, it could have been dragged elsewhere, even by a good sized animal.

Frozen Morning, Rub or Chew?

Can't tell. But it is close to the ground. I can't emphasize enough that this is a busy island during the day. It's almost a sort of dog park.

Frozen Morning, Chewed Views

I'm guessing from the height of these chews, it must be a muskrat. Can't be a beaver, not in the middle of the City of Elmira, New York!

Frozen Morning, Clogged River

You got me, girl. The Chemung is clogged with blocks of jagged ice, but there are also pools of open water. Ellie is staring at a rapidly flowing channel. It's time to haul it home, Babydog.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Slow, Cold River

Sunday, January 21, 2007 and the Chemung is flowing slowly with lots of ice on top. It's bleak and very, very cold, although there's no windchill.
I knew the photos would be gray and colorless. Takes a lot of sun to infuse varied tones, and there is some sun, but not enough.
Crunchy ice underfoot makes me nervous. Maybe one more photo before I go.

Seen Enough!

Nasty and cold. The sun is a cold, winter sun and the river is running slowly. Peaceful enough and boring.
It's much better to bring Ellie, because she keeps me busy.
In fact, just before this shot, I fell into a burrow that she surely would have detected and shown to me.
The walk back was bitter, because the sky clouded over and the day turned nothing but gray.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Dogless River Blogging

The HuggaMutt is in Golden Glow with MammaDog and PoppaDog, but a beautifully clear Sunday morning begs a walk. I waddled (without walking stick!) down to the river by myself, to take pictures.

I had hoped to photograph the woodsy part of the strand, but a row of cars were parked near the levee. And sure enough, the cracking sound of paint-ball guns were coming in short, grouped reports.

But it was still a nice walk. Enjoy.

Little Pond

Foster Island, Sort of a Dog Park

This is a wonderful place to bring your dogs. It is early morning, and the corvids (crows, ravens and even vultures) are screaming up a storm. Except for the narrow, short causeway, it is an island with plenty of trees, brush and various animal burrows to explore.

Training Area

Looking down river towards the boat ramp. Notice the culvert. Not a water gate, but a free-flowing creek, usually of clean water. This is where I trained Ellie to the whistle, in the first post below.

That's the Walnut Street Bridge in the distance.

Foster Pond. Not.

No, it's not really a pond. And Foster Island is no longer an island. The pond is really water surrounding the island, an inlet from the river. This is an excellent place to slap frogs and hunt for Herons. Ellie loves this area, and so do I.

Very Fast River

See the sparkly water towards the middle? The Chemung is running very fast right now. Given that we've had no rain lately, that would mean that the dam upriver is releasing water, to help prevent a flood. The water is also very muddy, another clue. Glad I don't have Ellie, because I would need to leash her, so I wouldn't lose her downriver if she slips.

Down River to the Walnut Street Bridge

Got a good look at all the bare trees? Hope so, because I will take no more winter photos until the weather becomes a bit more appropriate to the time of year. Bare trees and scruffy grass go only so far as entertainment!

Backside of Water Board

I am heading home and have my back to the Chemung. If you want to visit this "island," you need to find the front of the Water Board, at the foot of Hoffmann Street. Go around the cyclone fence, and say a pleasant hello to the very old doggies in the little enclosure next door. Climb the levee. If you are disabled, go to the foot of Grove Street, where the road to the Access Ramp will take you to the top of the levee. In a way, that makes it handicap-accessible!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

A Woman, A Whistle and A Wienerdog

That's how we started 2007. My good friend Rachel (a photographer in Ithaca, NY) sent me a training whistle for Christmas, and I wondered if I should teach Ellie to answer it.

See, I have Multiple Sclerosis, and my wee doggie Ellie is the reason I can walk without a cane. She was supposed to be a mini-dachshund, but she's a good bit larger than that, due to her Jack Russell mother and two doting human GrandOwners who like to share with her.

The Owner, MamaDog, lives in Golden Glow, a village just outside the town of Elmira, NY. Out there, Ellie lives with a real Dachshund and an American Foxhound. She gets plenty of exericise with them in their fenced in yard.

Husband RJ and I live in the City of Elmira, a country sort of town, but our yard is small. We do have sidewalks for Ellie and the Chemung River is four blocks south. I began by walking with Ellie, allowing her to keep the leash tense. This balanced me rather well. But Ellie became very aggressive with people, because I wasn't well, and she was protecting me.

Cesar Millan changed that. Now Ellie walks at my side, and I am well enough to walk slowly, and sometimes briskly, with her there. We had some near disasters, and I fell on her once, but we manage. We even walked to the Chemung and enjoyed the strand of trees and floodplain. Our travels are here and here.

This year is a new chapter. Our first trip with the whistle took us to the Grove Street Fishing Access and Boat Launch site. We were alone--not even the waterfowl--and I unhooked the leash and let her run. Every once in a while I tooted for her, and rewarded her return with Greenies or just an ear-rub.

It was a howling success. She ran, and I simply walked in the direction I wanted to go, over to the little island behind the Water Board. I whistled when I needed her to tow me up the levee, and when anyone else approached.

She loves her new game. So do I. If you enjoy that sort of thing, welcome to Riverdogging.

Little Pond