The recent great melt — how could it be only a few days ago — gave up a few formerly buried treasures. The hound became cagey and disappearing. Then the hound became very ill, liberally providing much evidence of cadaver snacking. A vet visit and two days of fasting later, woman and hound ventured into the yard — the hound leashed to prevent a repeat.

He is a sorry creature, not wanting to set one foot into the snow. Looking long-suffering, he resists mightily, “can’t you see I am sick? Why are you pushing me forward?” But woman, resolutely pushing hound at least to the solar panels, wants him to prove that he is not ready for the great scavenger hunt in the sky.

But the nose will out, a sniffing commences, and eagerness to move forward grows. Hound and woman now reverse roles and hound tries to take a beeline to the bog.

How a bad idea is born:

“I guess he’s not all that sick, “ thought I, pulled along at increasing speed by eager hound, “I wonder if he’ll show me the dead deer he’s been snacking on?” The carpenter and I had been speculating, from the elaborate evasive maneuvers, that the deer met its fate somewhere in the west 40 of the property, perhaps along the boggy trail hunters like to frequent when they feel they can elude the carpenter’s watchful eye.

But no, he took a left when down there leading me along the long dam at the western end of the bog, into the woods on the other side onto someone else’s back 40. Over fallen logs, slaloming through close to impenetrable alder, periodically tying us in knots around a tree, he followed his own trail of only two days earlier— from before he was laid low by his adventure in epic upchucking. Definitely seeming to know what it was we could possibly be looking for.

I held him on a shortish leash, as every second I expected to enter a scene of great carnage or at he very least byzantine stink. Faster and faster we went. Until, with a flourish, we entered what looked like center of town. Here all trails converged and lots of trampling evidenced a carnival troupe on speed. Except all was white and quiet: no blood, no carnage, no carcass.

The hound was lost and going in circles until, with growing confidence, he exited the jumbled scene right back in the direction of the bog, aiming straight across this time.

This was the moment at which another bad idea was born:

Perhaps it was time to quit trying to find a dead deer by trudging after an eager and hungry dog following his nose. All of this through 2 inches of snow covering an iced root in one place, 14 inches of deep mush in the next, and ice covering a puddle in a third. Perhaps it was time to bail. And perhaps the straightest route home, across the bog, the way the hound was headin’, was the right way to bail.

The hound comes to the first stream, wanting to cross on the ice. Except there isn’t a whole lot of ice and he tumbles straight into the drink. Being on the leash, he looks to the woman for rescue, “can’t you see I am a sad case and sick to boot?” Woman kneels, grabs a bunch  of grass and reeds with one hand, leans forward and with the other manages to get a hold off his paw— in concert they bring him back onto the bank. She does not fall through the ice.

The woman’s conscience is now screaming, is she aware of the extended period of time that has passed since she and the then-very-sick-seeming-hound left the house and the carpenter? Definitely time to bail.

We crossed the first stream on a dam and some thick old ice only to get to a second, wider and deeper, ribbon of fast-streaming water. In between the going was rough, with tussocks of reeds holding air causing this biped to crash deeply down into nothingness and snow at every other step. This was way over the top of my boots. Another solid piece of reasoning happened: Perhaps the footing would be better closer to the stream bank?

Not so much. I can report that the waterproof camera fogs up inside now when dropped in icy water. I can report that thick winter mud is pretty insistent in holding on to loosely zippered snow boots. I can report that the hound said, “why do you even wear those things? Just take’em off! And when you have, would you get my towel?”

We bailed onto the road. We walked around. We groomed ourselves for a long time when we got home.

Moral of the story: When looking for a dead deer, don’t try to gain drier ground by crossing a bog. And: the difference between a journalist and an intrepid lady of a certain age is that the latter doesn’t think to stop and take pictures while pulling her dog or her boots out of the drink.

4 thoughts on “Tracking

  1. Oh how disappointed I was not so by your story but that you never found the “thing” surly the hound knows of its location, so beware ! Me thinks he may be hiding the prize for nobody knows what the nose knows.

  2. All I can think of is what an incredibly lucky dog the hound is, living where he does with the intrepid woman and the carpenter! A dog’s life indeed. Sniff heaven with human companionship and love.

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