JD Allinder

Fun with Duke and Jane

In Posts on March 19, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Although it’s technically still winter, spring-like weather has invaded southeast Michigan. Temperatures have been about 20 degrees above normal for the past week or so, and the melting snow mixed with last week’s heavy rains have turned most of our favorite trails into mudslides. We still walk them, though. It doesn’t seem to bother Jane much, and it’s actually easier on my calves than the deep snow. It’s just so…muddy. (Another reason why I always lament the end of winter, the only time of year when I feel truly content.)

Jane and I took our post-lunch walk this afternoon with neighbor Annika and her 18-month-old chocolate Lab Duke. We’ve just recently become acquainted with Annika and Duke, and they’ve joined Jane and me a few times on our outings. Duke is a very sweet dog – still a puppy, really – and has enormous amounts of energy. He’s faster and stronger than Jane – and they both know it – but she pulls rank with him over the really important stuff, like sticks, and he yelps like a pup receiving maternal correction. Duke is excellent on the trail. He keeps a tireless eye on Annika, Jane, and me, running back and forth. He probably runs two miles for every one we walk. Jane, on the other hand, has her own coonhound agenda. Sweet, sweet Jane.

Today we went to Marshall Nature Area, 87 acres of hilly woods at the corner of Dixboro and Plymouth Roads in Ann Arbor. (Here’s a satellite view.) Jane and I just discovered Marshall this winter, and we’ve been there about ten times now. It was Annika and Duke’s first visit, and they proved to be spirited companions. There are about four miles of established trails in the woods plus a few miles of secondary deer paths. There are also quite a few steep hills that provide a decent workout for both dogs and humans. Duke ran the entire time. Jane ran in fits and spurts, mostly with her nose to the ground searching for dead things with which to anoint herself (she was successful) and occasionally wandering completely out of sight. (Duke kept close tabs on her, though.) The walk was punctuated by the occasional wrestling match and game of tug. (Duke always won the former, Jane usually the latter.)

Beyond the nature area are an additional 100 acres or so of woods and wetlands belonging to Fr. Gabriel Richard High School. We traversed these trails, and the dogs enjoyed splashing about, harassing geese, and scrutinizing the occasional dead thing. Annika found a beautiful, intact deer antler. I discovered its companion but stuck it in a tree because Jane wanted to make a meal out of it. We wondered how the antlers came to be on the ground. The rotting carcass was nearby in the woods, but why would his antlers have been in a different location? Was he hit by a car and straggled into the woods to die, shedding his antlers on the way?

On the way home, Duke passed out while Jane rested her chin on the open window taking the full breeze in her face. They’re a pretty good match, Duke and Jane. It’s funny to me that Jane seems like such a mature dog next to Duke. I still think of her as my little puppy, but she somehow graduated into adulthood without my noticing. Their sweet little lives are so accelerated by human standards. A year for us is like a decade for them. Jane’s passed out on the sofa right now. While I’m writing this, I find myself missing her. I think I’ll go and join her.

  1. i’m sad we didn’t get to walk with you and jane:(

  2. Next time, eh?


    God Bless,

  4. Hello, I’m Rhea and I’m getting a grass roots movement together as i type and I’m praying you’ll help. You see, Flipper, the Dolphin in the Gulf Coast, and his thousands of friends & family need our URGENT Help! We MUST move them before they are killed by the oil.

    Please call me at 513-332-4556. the website is SavingFlipper.com but i can’t get it to pull up.

    God Bless,

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