Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Missing Iniki

Me with a months-old Iniki
A grown-up Iniki with our friend Carol.


Iniki was really gentle and had a very soft mouth. She could eat anything out of your hand without bothering you in the slightest. If the kids bothered her she would lick them until they stopped. She was more of a snuggler than Bailey.

When we were out walking, Iniki always greeted other dogs with a bark, a lunge, and her tail held high. Other dog owners didn't always interpret this as friendly, but Iniki certainly meant well.

I remember once hiking downhill from Schilling Lake with the two dogs and Martha. I think we had just Anya with us. Iniki disappeared over the edge of the trail. I looked over the drop and decided there was no way I was going to try that, so she'd have to make it back up on her own. We could hear her crashing around down there, and she wasn't coming back up, so we decided to walk along a bit, calling to her, to see if she could find a way back up.

About five minutes later there was this incredible thrashing sound that just went on and on, and Iniki eventually emerged up through the bushes, legs tearing into the soft ground, hauling the entire back end of a deer up the cliff with her. She looked absolutely as pleased as could be, tail high in the air, as if to say, "Look what I found! I swear, nobody was using it! It was just sitting there!" She dragged that carcass after us for a mile or so before we got her to let go of it.




We travelled to Mammoth when Anya was just learning to walk. One evening while there I went on a short hike with Anya and the dogs. During this hike, we travelled by a frozen lake. Bailey was timid about getting out on the frozen surface, but Iniki just charged right out. On her way back in, she got to some thin ice and fell through.

Her head and shoulders popped back up, and she started padding as best she could... back out into the middle of the ice. I think she knew she was in trouble, and she was trying to retrace her steps. Instead of going through 20 feet of thin ice directly to me, she plowed her way though a couple hundred feet of thick ice. The entire way, she would get her front paws up on the ice sheet, struggle to haul her upper body out of the water, only to crash back through the ice and into the freezing water. It took her 20 minutes or more to chop and grind a passage all the way through the ice back to the shore point where she'd first gotten onto it. Bailey and I waited there for her, me with my heart in my mouth wondering if she was going to freeze or drown. When she got out Bailey barked at her and then tackled her, as if to tell her, "You idiot! You scared the hell out of us!"




Another time, hiking above Schilling Lake, we found a recurring mudslide covering the path. Iniki smelled something in the mud, and pushed her nose into it, then her whole muzzle, and finally her whole head. I don't know what she found in there, but it was pretty funny to see this collar on the ground with a lab's body sprouting from it.




Iniki loved water. When we were out walking around, if she found something even moderately damp, she sat on it or got into it. Here she is enjoying a puddle near Blue Oaks in Portola Valley.