Friday, July 28, 2006

Killing My First Prey

This past month, Mum has been crazily busy, and has been slacking in updating my blog. Her schedule has been packed full with action, with guests coming from overseas, and Dad being away (i.e. leaving her all the housechores) and also attending her grooming course at the academy. But I nagged her into action, so here goes...
While our guests were staying at our home, I made it a point to impress everybody with my hunting skills. With no formal training, no less. On one sunny Sunday morning, Mum found me acting kinda strange in the backyard, I was on a 'down' with a little furry creature in front of me. It didn't move. As our backyard is filled with wood chips, the furry creature was well camouflaged, but Mum saw that I wouldn't budge. So she came nearer, and wow, what a response!! She put her hands over her mouth to stifle a yell, and told Daddy to come out immediately. She jumped into the house to fetch the camera, and Dad came back out with a plastic rubbish bag. And lo and behold, it was a dead baby rabbit. Mum thought it was a rat and was so disgusted, but when they saw that I had killed my first bunny, I think Mum was secretly proud of me.
Of all the houses, why did that poor little rabbit wander into the backward that belongs to an Airedale terror like me? That question may bug me till eternity. Poor little fella. I suffer from the ocassional amnesia, so I really couldn't remember when I had killed it, must have been one of those evenings when Mum let me play out in the yard by myself. But what a kill for a first time hunting experience!! (well, ok not much of a hunting experience since it was in my backyard)
Other than that exciting news to report, I also headed down to Seattle downtown to bring my guests around. We went to the usual hotspots, Pike Place Market, the Experience Music Project, etc. It was ok, seeing all the crowds was nice, and I quite enjoyed myself, thank you very much.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Handstripping Me

Handstripping is a new thing to me, and to Mum. She decided to take up handstripping because my coat is wiry, thick and coarse and of the correct texture and color. Colors being rich tan and black. I've been previously clipped by mum, a few times, but she has been advised to handstrip me instead if we want to keep my coat the way it is.
She bought a DVD from Jane Harvey from Australia, Rangeaire Vision (Web: and decided to learn from the experts. It is very difficult finding experts who know how to do these things in Wa, and although Mum is already attending grooming school, it doesn't mean they teach her how to groom show dogs. Fortunately, grooming an Airedale in a show strip isn't that daunting, like grooming poodles for eg. And Mummy says, all it takes is perseverence, determination and hard work. And an eye for detail. Practice, practice, practice makes perfect. And guess who gets to be the guinea pig? Me of course.
So ok, I endured the tugging and the pulling, albeit very patiently. I do not fuss or move, or whine or escape. I just sit there patiently while Mum uses the handstripping knife and uses her thumb to pull out the hair. Sometimes I get tired, and then I lay down on the grooming table, or on Mum's lap. The constant motion and rythm of mum's actions seems to lull me into sleep. It isn't really painful at all, in fact, I was quite comfortable, and I felt like dozing into dreamland. After a while, when Mum got tired, she would let me down and we'd play a bit and potty too. Then it was back on the table again. We had 2 straight afternoons of this handstripping business, and still we were not finished. Mummy was so sore by the end of the 2nd afternoon, she left a tuft on my neck and throat and below the ears. Only after this afternoon (3rd day) was she able to remove all of that lion's mane.

Unstripped, thick messy coat

Stripped halfway, can you spot where it has been stripped and where it hasn't?
(hint: Stripped areas look bald)

Mum and I in action (note the treat container near my nose)

I get treats every now and then in between handstripping so I feel appreciated for being Mum's guinea pig

Close Up View of handstripped saddle (halfway point)

Let's wait and see what happens after this. I'm almost bald in my saddle and body, but the good top coat should be growing in about 3 weeks time. My head looks much neater now.

Pratt Lake

Location: Pratt Lake, Mt Baker Snoqualme Natl Forest, Wa
Distance: 12 - 14 Miles roundtrip
Time: Overnight Camp (6 hours hiking time)
Elevation Gain: 2800Ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Pratt Lake in the Early morning hours
Over the 4th July Weekend, my parents organized a hiking overnight backpacking trip to Pratt Lake. Originally, the plan was to go to Snow Lake, and as the name suggests, that lake isn't called Snow lake for nothing. When we got to the trailhead, we found out from the rangers that the lake was 'snowed' over 90% and the campgrounds were all wet (although this is in the middle of summer mind you). So Andrew (Sophie's dad) suggested going to Pratt Lake instead. We were all packed and game to go!! I've been waiting so long for a good hike.
from left, Andrew, Rae, Sophie, me, Daddy
It was a great idea going to Pratt Lake. The trail was not too crowded as there are many lakes and trails in this wilderness area, so the crowds thinned out. We hiked 6 miles to Pratt Lake, and found a good camp spot. The terrain was mostly shaded in forests and we passed several cool refreshing streams as Sophie and myself drank and gulped water, as we soaked our sore feet in the gushing streams. What a wonderful sensation.
A glimpse of Mt Ranier on the trail, beside Ollalie Lake (foreground behind the trees)
This hike was Sophie's first, but what a trooper she is. She hiked all the way to our camp and not a whimper or grumble. When I did my first hike back in the puppy days, I was only 11 weeks old when I did 4 miles in 3 hours. I was a trooper too, but the outdoors provide so much stimulation and exercise, there is no room for grumbles. Its so much fun, I told Sophie and she believed me. Remember Sophie is 2 months younger than I am. She is 5 months old now.
It is quite a good thing she's a trooper, because she's MY girlfriend!
Here are some photos from the weekend.

Chewing on a dead branch at the campsite

Taking dips in the lake to cool off from the hike

Sharing a Disney moment with Sophie

Sophie's dad, Andrew teaching Sophie how to swim as I paddle along and play

Looking for extra treats that could have fallen down

Play wrestling with Sophie

Unfortunately, Sophie and her parents didn't stay overnight at camp with us. They left for the return 6 miles back to the trail head and to Seattle as they had made dinner arrangements, so Daddy, Mummy and I spent some good quality time together. We hiked half a mile to the next lake, (Mum can't remember the name of the lake) but it was so gorgeous. Way more gorgeous than Pratt Lake, and there was a running waterfall and fallen logs in the water. It was very fancy indeed. The sound of water is quite amazing.

Strolling along the logs in the water, practicing my balance.

Urggg... Mummy help me!! I fell into the lake
Mummy saves me and helps me up onto the log

Even after falling into the water, I wasn't afraid, because this doesn't seem to faze my parents, they don't make a fuss, or get over protective of me, they just let me go and explore and learn. They say I must soak in as much of nature and the outdoors as I can, because nature and mother Earth is so beautiful.

Then we returned to camp at Pratt Lake and I followed Daddy to the lake as he pumped drinking water for us to cook dinner and drink. Here you see me watching over Daddy.
Crossing a stream with Daddy
With Mum

We returned to Issaquah to spend Independence Day back home. In the evening, fireworks started going off in the distance, it sounded like thunder, and everywhere I could hear the loud booming noise. Over and over, BOOM! BOOM! When Mummy let me out to potty, I wasn't scared at first. I just took notice, but then suddenly, some neighbour let go some fireworks right in our neighbourhood, I was freaked out, and started to run and try to escape from my backyard. It was very terrifying.

Mum just tried to ignore my fuss and then to convince me that it was alright to pee, but no way hose. I refused to sleep till almost 3am the next morning, panting and heaving the whole time because I was so freaked out. Poor Mummy and Daddy. They couldn't sleep because of me fussing in the room, and since Daddy had a 5am conference call, Mummy took me to the media room to sleep. That is the first night ever that my parents did not sleep together when they are together in the same house.