Monday, April 1, 2013

Horsethief Canyon Trail, Annie's First Desert Hike

Annie surveys her southeast Utah kingdom.

Annie’s Story:
Last May, on a cool spring night, four tiny puppies were dumped and deserted on a front porch in Price, Utah.  The homeowner bottle-fed the pups for a couple weeks before taking them to the animal shelter, where they were weaned and put up for adoption.
During this time Tim and I contemplated adding a canine hiking and fishing companion to our household.  A search on revealed two “Border Collie mix” puppies at the local shelter.  We dillydallied, listing the pros and cons of dogs.  We've only ever had cats and cats are easy.  Did we really want to take on the responsibility of a puppy?  Finally, two days before leaving on a long vacation, we visited the shelter.  After playing with a little black pup and her brown-and-white brother we decided . . . not to decide.

 Two weeks later and back home, we again considered the possibility of a puppy.  With no more long trips planned for the summer this would be an ideal time to test the waters of dog ownership.  "If not now, when?".  Tim remembered the black pup fondly and encouraged me to check on her.  I scanned and the puppy—now 11 weeks old and given the name “Shiloh”—was still listed on the website.
I drove to the shelter and walked to the cages.  “Shiloh” sat by her door.  She wagged her tail, smiled to reveal a bright pink tongue, and seemed a happy and confident little pup.  A shelter employee gave me her history: “Shiloh” had been at the shelter longest of the four siblings from the abandoned litter.  
“Why didn’t anyone take her?”  
“Except for purebred black labs, people don’t want black dogs.”
        Really?  This was the first I’d ever heard of any bias against black dogs.  The caretaker admitted that although the four puppies shared border collie characteristics, without an idea of who their parents were no one really knew their pedigree.  Her best guess for “Shiloh” was a border collie/lab mix.   
“How big will she get?” I asked.
“Probably about 30-35 pounds,” was the answer.  Sounded about right to me.
This time I decided that “Shiloh” had been homeless long enough.  I adopted her.
“Shiloh” became “Annie”.  She’s now 11 months old and 47 pounds.  We believe she has Border Collie blood because of her herding tendencies and her intelligent eyes, but otherwise Annie's heritage is a mystery.  Friends tell us that we should get her DNA tested so we'll know “for sure” what kind of dog we have.  But I love a good mystery and we’re not going to do it.  
Part of Annie’s charm is that she could be anything; sharing the past eight months with her has been like opening a surprise package every day.  We’ve been delighted to watch Annie grow into her “border collie/black lab/blue heeler/australian shepherd/husky” body and yes, she’s become the happy and confident dog I recognized in a little puppy that hot summer day at the shelter.  I think we’ll keep her.


The start of Horsethief Canyon trail.  

Rita and Annie pound the dusty path into the canyon.

        With sapphire skies and a temperature of 68 degrees Easter Sunday was the perfect day to introduce Annie to the sandy washes and slickrock surfaces of desert hiking.  Horsethief Trail, in southeastern Utah's canyon country, is a dog-friendly trail in a wilderness study area.  
        While March 31st is too early for wildflowers, the cooler temperatures were enjoyed by us and by Annie—her black coat absorbs the sun's rays like a tar-covered road on a hot summer's day.

In my first Horsethief Canyon post I described the harrowing
experience of losing the trail.   This time we tied red surveyors tape to
junipers as we left the wash (left center).  Easier to see than the cairns,
the fluttering tapes guided us from the rocky outcrops back into the canyon.
We removed the tapes and packed them out with us on our return.

High above the canyon,
Annie and Rita break for lunch on "table-top" rock.

Tim and Annie hike back to the trailhead.  Even on this cool day
Annie used every scrap of shade in an effort to escape the sun.

       Read all about the Horsethief Canyon hike—and view desert wildflower photos—on my previous post:

       Horsethief Canyon is part of Utah's San Rafael Swell, a remote desert region in southeastern Utah.  You can learn more by visiting these websites:


  1. Hi Rita,

    I'm so happy to read about your first big adventure with Annie and that it was a success!!

    She's adorable, by the way. Dogs are such wonderful hiking companions - they're good at "paws-ing" for reflection and a good sniff along the way, so you know what you're heading into. I'm really glad you found a keeper and fellow hiking enthusiast (though maybe just on the shady trails!).

    Have fun!

    1. Hi Vickie,

      Annie seems to love trail hiking, so we do consider ourselves lucky. But this desert heat could be a problem (maybe too much "paws-ing" on the trails?!); I think New England's shady mountains may be more to her liking. Or perhaps we'll have to move to Alaska!

      Thanks for your comments!

  2. Beautiful dog! Beautiful day! Beautiful location!

    And speaking further about Annie, I love your description of her as a "border collie/black lab/blue heeler/australian shepherd/husky"! :-)
    And regarding some folks having a bias against black dogs! Hmmm! A bias against any creature because of color is something that is difficult for me to wrap my head around!

    I look forward to reading other travel adventures with Annie!


    1. Hi John,

      I share your bewilderment of bias—in any way, shape or color.

      We're looking forward to a summer of fun with Annie and, hopefully, I'll have many more adventures to blog about!

      You're right, Sunday was a beautiful day in every way!

      Thanks, as always, for reading and commenting.

  3. Excited to hear about your adventures with Annie! Have fun!

    1. Hi Laura,

      As you know, Tim and I are avowed cat people, so we journeyed outside our "comfort zone" to share our lives with a dog!
      Now I'm looking forward to having—and writing about—our adventures with Annie.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!