Mr. Shadow

Daily Photo

Over at Andy's last week for some Skittle infusion, Shadow decided to lure me back into the conversation with his cuteness.

Lockwood hike and home


Kris and I managed to sleep most of the night through last night, with Kris' waking to the smell of Andy's coffee and my waking to the thud of an excited Blue landing on top of me, bringing the tent down in the process.

Nothing like using a sixty pound dog as wake up call.

That same dog makes a great escort in the middle of the night when there might be coyotes and other large animals roaming around, and you're not sure if it's safe to walk around the small building, across a small open space to the other side of the hilltop, in order to pee.

Andy thinks that Blue didn't actually sleep last night, that he maintained watch the whole night. I know that Annie wriggled her way out of the tent in order to sit watch for a while. She did, however, recognize the warmth of the tent, and wormed her way back into the tent, sitting on Kris' head in the process.

This morning, I was, unsurprisingly, the last person up, with Bella being the last of the seven of us actually getting up.

After breakfast, a meal that Bella thought meant, "We're going home!" but really meant, we're heading off for another hike. Having climbed to the top of the hill he'd been wanting to climb, and discovering another hill beyond it, he decided he wanted to climb THAT hill to see if there was another hill beyond it.

Interestingly enough, I think all of the dogs have decided that I am the source of all that is good. That is to say, food.

So, off we went on our hike, pretty much following the same trail that Kris and Andy (and Blue and Shadow and Annie and mostly Bella) took yesterday. The six of us (where the six of us were the seven of us minus Bella, who was, once again, on her own hike again) went out the back way, down the hill, up the next one, and along the ridge. Up and over a couple hills, to the top of one hill, to discover the next range of hills after that range.

For the way back, we decided not to go back the same way we came up, and opted instead to hike back "towards the water tower." We found a copse of pine trees, though how they survived, much less grew so big, on the top of the hill with little water, I have no idea.

Bella kept up with us, following her own path, sometimes being ahead of us, sometimes being behind us, but always walk walk walking at her own pace.

At one point, I stopped to squat, and Bella passed me, to catch up with Kris and Andy. Kris decided to wait for me, Andy decided to continue. At that point, we lost Andy. He went off either down toward a large ravine or down towards a dropoff of unknown height. We decided to try to the left, towards the large ravine.

After a few hundred meters, Kris was less confident about the direction we were going, so decided to turn around. Bella was in front of us when we made this decision, being the only dog with us. I hurried up to her, turned her around, and hustled her back the way we had come.

We had walked just far enough for Bella to disappear over the hill we were scrambling up when we heard Andy call out to us, why were we walking back the wrong way? Eh?

We called for Bella to come back, but, being on her own hike, she just kept going. We turned back back around, headed back to the ravine, scrambled up and around around the ravine, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Must to my pleasant surprise, Bella figured out our mistake, had turned around, and was coming back our way. She didn't seem too pleased about our mistake, deciding not to greet us when she caught up to use, and just walked right by.

Much like yesterday, according to Kris.

We wandered down to the bottom of Crews Hill, walked up Crews Road to the top of the hill, and gathered up our stuff. The dogs were sufficiently tired out to sleep all the way back home.

I'm happy to say when we made it home, I was able to stop by a Starbucks and buy a hot chocolate. A premium hot chocolate.

One I'd been talking about for the previous day, to Andy's consternation, I think.

Shadow is Welsh!


From Andy:

I think shadow is half border collie, half welsh collie! We met a welsh
collie at the beach today. Same size and leg length as shadow, same
coloring, similar fur length. The long legs are an adaptation for herding
cattle. Also some similar mannerisms. But the welsh collie doesn't do the
"stare down" that you use for sheep (or shadow uses on Blue). And the welsh
collie has floppy ears that won't stand up on their own. Shadow can keep his
ears up. Otherwise, they could be twins. The lady also had a border collie,
so it was easy to do a side by side comparison. The border was way more
focussed on fetching, which is typical of other border collies I've seen,
and it was also "normal" sized (maybe 6 inches shorter and 15 lbs lighter).

Not Blue.


Okay, so, there were other parts of today's hike that weren't about Blue (no, really!).

Andy shows me that we're here! Yay, the beach!

We found a really big tire on the beach:

Bella was very puppy-dog on the beach, with her ears flapping in the wind:

A very happy Bella:

Annie found a dead seal on the beach, and showed it to me just before she rolled all over it.

Poof! New beagle!

All in all, a good day:

Confuse 'em


Andy IM'd this morning and asked if we were interested in taking the dogs to the park. Go outside and play? Uh, yes? Kris had plans at noon, so wanted only to go to the local park. We went off to the park, three people, four dogs in tow.

I expected each dog to do his usual thing: Bella would sniff everything along the perimeter; Annie would run run run, then sniff along the perimeter, waiting for a lapse in our awareness to make her escape; Blue would chase the disc as long as Andy threw it; and Shadow would alternate between playing defense on Blue and hovering near one of the people for a quick snuggle.

To my surprise, Bella came out to play with us, chasing one of us when someone was running around, and dodging us when one of us was chasing her. She artfully zipped among the three of us, swerving in and out, juking one way and dashing the other when we made to cut her off. Bella pretended to be a 2 year old dog, and endeared her little heart to us.

Shadow also surprised me by chasing me down, nipping at my legs and herding me back to the pack when I tried to run down Annie, who had "wandered" away. When I turned on him and started chasing him, Andy and Kris joined in, turning the herder into the herdee.

When we were done, Andy asked if I was interested in heading to Ft. Funston, confuse the dogs by giving them not one, but TWO outings. I was up for it, so off we went. Although the trip was billed as a "fool the dogs and go on a hike," in reality it was, "display how inaccurate Kitt's timing is with her new camera."

Andy asked if I could take a picture of Blue mid-air. Sure! So, throughout the hike, I took pictures of Blue. Note, I didn't say I "took pictures of Blue mid-air." No, that would have required good timing on my part. instead, I managed an off-frame picture of Blue:

A distant shot of Blue:

A close shot of Blue:

Blue chasing birds in the surf:

Blue eating sand:

Way after a catch:

Just a little after the catch:

Waaaaaay before the catch to compensate:

And so far before the catch, Blue was still spinning:

But, you know, you take enough pictures, ONE of them is bound to be good, right?

Of course, there's the shot of Andy, to prove he was there, too:

Of my dogs, well, I have a lot of pictures of their butts:

Hello, Dog!


Any idea how hard it is to make a Blue Heeler sit still long enough to shove a camera up his nose? How about a Border Collie?

How about after you've already annoyed them with a flash that accidently went off?

Yeah, that hard.

Dog 3, dog 4


Somehow (who knows how!), we convinced Andy that he should let us dog sit his two dogs. Andy's dad dropped the dogs off this afternoon, so Blue and Shadow were in the house when I arrived home from work.

I wandered around the back of the house when I arrived home, to look in the back window to see what the dogs were doing. When I wandered around back, Annie ran up to me to greet me, as is her style. Bella didn't arrive shortly thereafter, which is her style. After a moment, Annie disappeared into the back yard, and I continued my walk to the back window.

Looking in, I realized why Bella didn't come rushing outside. Blue was nose to the door. Shadow was right behind him. Annie was nowhere to be found. Bella, however, was perched up on top of the couch at the highest, softest, most easily dog-approachable spot in the livingroom, surveying her minions.

A quick rap on the window, a quick turn to the side, and an EXPLOSION of dog fur, and warm doggie breath greeted me in the form of Blue, who nearly knocked me over, and Shadow who finished the job Blue failed at.

Ah, yes, these next few days are going to be fun.

Shadow joins us


As Kris, Annie and Blue were preparing to head off for the dogs' all-day, off-leash hike, I bundled up Bella and Shadow into my car and starting driving away this morning. We were going on the the short hike we went on before, mostly because it's short (about an hour long) and close (only about 20 minutes away).

As I pulled out of the driveway, Bella and Shadow in the back seat, I noticed the car smelled funny. I opened the vents, rolled down the windows, but nothing helped. I turned around to comment to Bella that she should stop farting, when I realized there was a pile of doggie puke, full of Bella's breakfast, in the back seat. Fortunately, she had chosen to throw up on the blanket I had in the back seat, which I removed after quickly returning home. Andy and Kris were puzzled when I returned after being gone all of one minute. Understandably.

Second try, we made it to the Open Space, and out of the car. Bella immediately began pull, pull, pulling. Shadow looked at me funny when I put the leash on him, but walked along beside me as we left the parking lot and started for the trail head. I wanted to keep the leash on him until we were at a minimum outside the obvious park rangers' locations. The parking lot is typically an easy place to catch dog owners with dogs off leash.

We managed to walk about 20 yards before Shadow was done with his leash. He stopped, dug all four paws into the ground, and tugged in reverse. Bella, meanwhile, was charging ahead, nose to the ground, straining to go faster. Three seconds later and my shoulders are taught with doggie tension, both pulling in different directions.

Assuming Shadow didn't want the leash on, I went back and took it off him. When I walked forward, he didn't follow. Dog! I walked fifty yards up the trail, then back the fifty yards to see Shadow sitting there, staring intently through the trees back at the parking lot. Nudging, pushing, cajoling, didn't help. He wasn't budging from that place.

Thinking this was going to be a really, really, really long hike, I put the leash back on him, and started tugging. Now, imagine a border collie on the end of a leash, digging in and pulling backwards with all his might. On the other end of the leash is a woman, with her feet dug into the ground, pulling backwards with all her might. In the woman's hands are not only the first dog's leash, but another leash with a smaller beagle dog howling at the two of them, "Arroooooooooo!" simply translated to, "Come ON! Let's go!"

Eventually Shadow lost the tug of war, and we started back up the hill.

For another 20 yards.

Then he dug his feet in again and pulled backward on the leash.

Well, crap. Maybe this hike wasn't such a good idea.

Shadow and I continued this leash on, leash off, digging, stopping, nudging dance for the next 300 yards, until I noticed behind us by about 50 yards was another hiker. With a dog. A dog Shadow wanted to herd.


I let the other dog pass, and suddenly Shadow was a great dog. He walked along next to me except when Bella peed on a spot. Then he had to sniff, sniff, sniff that spot. Annoying dog.

We continued along the hike with Shadow behind me until we reached the crest of the hill and the start of the loop trail we walk. As soon as we reached that top and walked along the top ridge for 30 yards, Shadow realized hey, hey, this is a flat hike, and zoooooom! he was in front of Bella, in front of me, in front of us and go go going.

Bella and I followed our fearless Shadow leader for the rest of the hike, and finished just over the expected hour.

Andy offered to watch Bella for the afternoon, since he'd be home watching Shadow anyway, so I dropped the two doggen off at his house and went to work. Not paying attention to my phone, I missed a call from him. When I called back, he said, oh, Bella didn't look good for a while, but then puked again and seemed fine. Hi, let me drop off my sick dog for you to take care of. I was embarrassed, but Andy said, hey, its part of having dogs, this cleaning up of the doggie puke.

Uh, okay. You clean up. I'll be here, embarrassed.

ToT6, the journey back


We woke up today at 6:15 AM. I managed all of four hours of sleep, for the second night in a row. I'm not sure why I woke up so early, I blame Shadow. Andy immediately got up and starting making breakfast. I took a little longer, like a half hour longer, to actually wake up, stretch, read a couple chapters of Harry Potter, get up. You know, the important things.

We packed up and started off on the remaining part of our hike. The dogs started walking fairly slowly, Blue with his athletic tape booties, and Shadow with his Sampras look.

The hike out wasn't nearly as long, it seemed, as the hike in. Knowing much of the path really helped. We weren't able to time the hike with half hour increments, as DanO, Megan and I did on the way in, so I tried to remember where I was at the various points. I recalled crossing into the Ventana Wilderness at 12:20, so we had only two miles to go when we found that sign. I also recalled seeing a fantastic ocean view around mile three.

Shadow was able to walk up hills pretty well, and Blue was able to gallop or stop, but not much in between. The pads on his feet were fairly well chewed up. That he could move at all was impressive. Andy was, of course, the most impressive of all, carrying one or the other dog at various points during the hike. The dogs are 50-60 pounds. Even with his harness, the one that nearly choked him at one point, Andy had to use a lot of arm strength to hold them up. He never mentioned his knees hurting, even carrying the extra 90+ pounds over some incredibly unstable ground.

We arrived at the end of the trail around 12:40 PM. After checking to see if the station had any ice cream (it didn't), we sat down on the tarp under a large pine tree that had a breeze. Shadow didn't really want to lie down on the tarp, and opted, instead, to sit in the back seat of the first open car. The owners of said car were actually quite confused when they looked into the seat and saw a dog sitting there.

I rushed over to get Shadow from the back back seat of the van he was lying in, calling him to come. He didn't budge. I had to climb into the back of the van, pull him out, pick him up, and walk him all of 30 yards to the tarp. Sure, I could argue I didn't have my pack balancing me out, but I don't think I could have carried Shadow very far on the trail unless I really really really had to, Andy's encouragement to the contrary.

After settling the dogs on the tarp, I confessed to Andy I had read Harry Potter from 1:00 am to 2:00 am this morning when I couldn't sleep, and suggested he read to catch up to where I was. Me? I'd sleep.

So, Andy read and I slept for about an hour. Once again, I was unable to sleep without knowing he was there, and fell asleep with a light touch against him. He woke me up by dropping a cashew into my hand. Tasty, tasty cashew.

We read Harry Potter for a while until even that wasn't very interesting. Andy called his dad to see if he was around locally, but had to leave a message. After a bit, I offered to rosham to see who would walk the half mile to the lodge for ice cream. Andy offered and started walking.

He made it all of three minutes before DanO walked up, the three of them done with their hike at 2:40 PM. Borrowing DanO's cell phone, I called Andy, who had my cell phone, and back he came within moments. Ten minutes minutes later, we were off to drop Andy off at his truck, listening to the various craziness of our fellow teammates: Mark swimming downstream instead of hiking being the biggest news.

The distance between the two trail entrances was actually two hours, not something I had realized, though Andy did when he figured out where his exit (and DanO's, Megan's, Sitka's and my entrance) was. Up the coast, through Carmel Valley, up the mountain, farther up the mountain on a dirt road, and a smidge off, and we were at Andy's truck. The same thing in reverse to head back down for the four of us to go home, sans Andy, Blue and Shadow.

Now, Mark had told us about the race at Laguna Seca. He told us not to continue along Carmel Valley, but to head back to 1 before heading north to the 156 and the 101.

What Mark didn't realize was that traffic was going to just as bad on 1 as it would be on the 101. All from the race.

We stopped for dinner at some Baja Racing Grill place, with a Steve McQueen Le Mans poster on the wall, before braving the traffic heading back north to the Bay Area. After about fifteen minutes in the back seat with my lying down next to him, Sitka decided he couldn't stand me any more, despite documented proof of the momentary snuggling he showed me, and climbed over me to way back of the truck. He curled up on our bags and fell asleep.

More room for me! I stretched out in the back seat and passed out. DanO and Megan slowed when the drove by my house, throwing me out the side door and rolling my bag out the back. I stumbled into the house around 10:30 PM, thinking, oof, DanO and Megan had another hour to drive. Ugh.

Tragically, the dirt on my legs was so thick, I had to shower like the heathens do, and used a washcloth to scrub the dirt off. Kris would have been proud, if he hadn't been so engrossed in Harry Potter at the moment.

Doggen watchin'


Danger, through his mom, had given Kris two VIP tickets to today's A's game against the Mariners. The Mariners who, by the way, have Ichiro playing (Ichiro being the only consistent hitter I have in the Beat the Streak contest. At Doyle's suggestion, I prefilled Ichiro as my hitter for the next two weeks, in case I forget to pick a player. What do you know? My best streak is at 13 now. Kris' is at only 9.).

Not being exactly the biggest baseball fan ever, I suggested Kris ask someone else to go with him. Yes, I'd go, but wouldn't he rather go with someone who will also enjoy the game with him, and not go and wonder why she was there, thinking of all the other tasks she'd rather be doing? I mean, come on, think of the babies!

So, he called up his new best friend yesterday, and made plans. I offered to watchin' the doggen, so plans were made to leave from here, with two dogs having a doggie fun day at Krikitt Downs.

I'm still not sure what drugs I took to make such an offer escape my lips.

So, this morning, Andy came over with Blue and Shadow. Thankfully, he didn't knock when he arrived. Instead, he followed standard Krikitt Downs' friends protocol and walked right in. I love when my friends know they can do that, and do.

A short while later, Kris and Andy were off, and I was in the house with four dogs. Four dogs that, combined, were double my weight. More doggen that I'm used to having.

Blue spent the first half hour of his visit with me staring at the front door where Andy had gone through. He stared almost as if, by sheer force of will, he could bring Andy back through the door.

When that failed, he sat down next to me and stared up at me.


For two hours.

Might have been longer, I'm not sure. I tried to pet him, get him up on the couch next to me to snuggle me as Bella does. He wasn't having any of it, and sat there, staring and panting, panting and staring. At one point, he went back to the front door to stare at it, no panting. He returned a few moments later to stare at me.

And pant.

A strange way to spend the day, to be sure.

Eventually, the game ended, and the boys came back from the game. Blue heard the car door shut and either Andy's or Kris' voice first, and bum rushed the door. He was shortly followed by a Shadow, the Cone-head and the Howler.

That either Andy or Kris made it through the front door with the mounds of doggie flesh piled up behind it, amazes me still.