Waitakere Ranges - home of Hercules & Xena, Warrior Princess

Antics of Josie and Duncan Adventure #2

Date: 28 January 1997 Setting the scene: Josie turned 6 months old 2 days ago. Duncan turned 3 months old today. Josie is a very light coloured Golden Retriever, Duncan is a dark coloured Golden Retriever. Josie came from Loch Lomond, Scotland. Duncan is a local lad, but his father was from the UK. Josie is intended for Show Ring and Obedience. Duncan is intended for Show Ring and Field Trial. Both are intended for breeding. Time: 8.45 PM on Monday 27 January 1997 - Holiday - Auckland Anniversary Day. The sun has just set. Events of the day leading up to this adventure: The day was normal, except that Josie started Show Ring training on Sunday to prepare for a Blue Ribbon Show and received her 2nd short lesson today on the upper level deck.

It’s Monday night and the dog runs are now clean. It’s been a hot day by all standards - up to 80 degrees (29 degrees Celsius) and humidity around 70%. Evening however has brought a cooling in the way of a slight breeze. Both dogs are in the Library which is next to the dog kennels and accessed through a sliding door. Josie has just been let out to relieve herself. Of late this has been on a lead because she has ventured off the property to the bush. The house is situated on a half acre in the Waitakere Ranges and backs up to Auckland Centennial Parkland which is all native bush. There is a ravine and a Big Muddy Creek flows through it and out to the Manukau Harbour. The bush is fairly thick, but there appears to be a trail of sorts, although not maintained, that leads from the lower part of the property to the creek and then down to the harbour. This information was imparted to me at the neighbours Bar-B-Q on Sunday evening. I have yet to venture very far past the property line and that was only to casually investigate where Josie and Duncan had explored a few weeks earlier.

Josie was wanting a run and so I was at the door watching her to be sure she didn’t run off when Duncan, nicknamed Mighty Mouse because of his appearance and manoeuvres, ran past me at the door and straight to Josie. Their encounters are always the same - great roughhousing - sometimes to the point of being a bit too fierce. Both have rather dominate personalities. Well, they weren’t about to listen to my calls to stop and come back in the house. As I started toward them, Duncan took the two of them farther down the property and after a short romp on the open land, darted into the bush.

I waited. I called. I called again. I called again. etc. No dogs. I went to the lower part of the field and could hear them near by - called again, but they weren’t having any suggested confinement. I waited a good half hour and then started getting a bit worried. I heard some neighbourhood dogs barking and began to worry that they may have found their way to the road through someone’s property. So walked to the road and up a bit - nothing. Got in the car and drove up and down Kauri Point Road twice - nothing. It now has been an hour. Never have the two pups been gone this long! It’s dark and I sense they are lost in the bush. Since people get lost in the bush all the time in New Zealand, I figure I better stay put or I’ll end up lost with the dogs. So I call the SPCA and report the dogs lost and then phone Helen Tommy, my neighbour and the neighbourhood watch delegate just to let her know that the dogs are lost in case anyone calls her about seeing or finding them. Well, a few minutes later her husband, John, appears on my driveway with a torch offering to walk with me into the bush. It’s now been an hour and figure why not - so I get shoes, mobile phone, torches and walking stick. Off we go.

Took about 10 minutes of walking in the bush toward the stream before John and I who had been drifting in opposite directions decided on a route and were making our way toward each other using our torches to flag our positions. I heard a sound in the bush, other than John, and stopped to listen. John was almost to me when I heard it again and mentioned it to him and pointed in the direction of the sound - meanwhile whistling and calling the dogs names. The sound came again and shortly Duncan showed up at my feet and John reported seeing a dog by him - it was Josie. At that point they were willing to follow John and I back to the house as they seemed to have had enough of their follies. It was good John was guiding this mangy group and suggest we should be going up the hill in a 45 degree angle to where I was headed. If I had continued, I would have ended up at the harbour. We made it home and John got hold of the two wanderers while I managed the last bit of bush and hill. Opening the sliding door to the Library, both pups immediately entered the house. With thanks expressed to John, he returned home. Elapsed time of this adventure - 1 and a quarter hours.

Once inside I could see that Josie was panting hard, foaming at the mouth and probably had considered herself lost. Duncan on the other hand was cool, barely out of breath and probably not lost at all and would have lead Josie home when he had completed his exploration of the entire Big Muddy Creek bush area. They were given water and put to bed in their creates. I listened to Josie pant hard for a full hour and then taper off to a hard breathing. She laid down on her side exhausted. Duncan on the other hand was on his feet and wanting to play.

At 4 AM on a nature call for myself, I let Duncan out for the purpose of relieving himself outside. However, prior to actually going out we had a little heart-to-heart conversation about the adventure. I explained that it wasn’t wise at his young age and small size to go wandering out in the bush at night and that had he wandered into someone’s property they might have decided to keep him or he could have got on the road and the speeding cars could have damaged his wee furry frame. He appeared to understand and in a manner of apologising for having caused me undue worry gave me a lick on the hand. He then did what he was supposed to and I put him back to bed. I tried to have the same conversation with Josie, but I don’t think it registered.

In the morning, at 7 AM, Duncan was bouncing around ready to tackle the day. Josie looked like she had been in a bar all night. I don’t think field trial work will be Josie’s calling, but then I knew that before this night bush run adventure. Duncan on the other hand will most likely do very well. But then I knew that already as well, since we had gone to a Field Trial the weekend before and he had walked 5K (just over 3 miles) and had really wanted me to let him off the lead so he could run with the big dogs. He took a pigeon in his mouth and said “thank you very much and I’ll have 2 or 3 more please!” Yes, there is potential here.

It’s good these two aren’t being training up as guide dogs for the blind - given their mis-adventure and being lost in the bush at night, I can only image what strange and perverse course they might lead so poor blind person on.

Antics #3 - 9 February 1997

Organised Trek through Centennial Parkland along Kauri Point Road area Josie - 6 mos / 2 weeks; Duncan 15 weeks.

With Duncan on a lead and Josie free to run, we set off from the lower part of the property at 51 Kauri Point Road on an “official” trek to find Big Muddy Creek and follow the track to the Manukau Harbour. By this time in Duncan’s short life he had already lead three “unofficial” expeditions into the parklands with Josie a willing accompanist. One of these being at dusk and the two of them not returning for over an hour and a search and rescue having to be organised to find them. Now it was time for Sy to explore the parklands on a Sunday afternoon with dogs “in toe” so to speak.

Once we lost sight of the house, Sy started tying yellow bits of thin rope around small trees to mark our way back. In about 15 minutes or so we reached a well formed track that appeared to be the track running along Big Muddy Creek. And so it proved to be, as we walked to the harbour. Although you could occasionally hear voices from nearby properties along Kauri Point Road, you couldn’t see any visible signs of civilisation and the Tui birds provided delightful orchestration along the track. The track was well travelled and an easy walk with beautiful bush clad canopy. It sloped slightly down hill just prior to the harbour. It was at this point that one could hear the waves lapping the shore by the small harbour beach. The tide was in on this occasion and the dogs enjoyed a bit of a dip - not getting dirty. The water by the mouth of Big Muddy Creek and the Manukau Harbour was a bit nasty, but not too bad. We stayed for a few moments and then organised ourselves to head back.

About half way back Josie proceeded to demonstrate in “depth” why Big Muddy Creek was so called. Having run ahead, her adventure went unwitnessed, but the result did not. She re-appeared with a dark grey sludge covering her muzzle up over her eyes and all four legs and tail. Since she is almost white - she resembled a Scottish sheep with a black face and legs. One could only imagine what took place. Duncan faired better, as he always does - legs and tail slightly dirty. But what a sight Josie was to behold.

We found our back through the bush from the track to the house. Josie and Duncan seemed to know where to turn up from the main track to get back to the house. This was good, since Sy won’t tend to worry so much if they get loose again. They do seem to enact their “selective hearing” when Sy calls them after they’ve taken off on one of their “unofficial” adventures and choose not to hear their call to return home.

Once home Josie tried to roll in the grass to remove the gunk from her coat, but to no avail - it was a thick sludgy mess. Into the dog kennels for both Josie and Duncan and a hosing down. Having lost his puppy coat and not having his adult coat yet, Duncan whimpered claiming the water was cold like the breeze that had come up and that he wasn’t that dirty and didn’t need a hosing down. Sy wasn’t buying any of it, claiming “you have the fun getting dirty, you do the bath!” Josie didn’t put up a fuss - she seems to know how bad off she smelt and looked. Duncan, who at 12 weeks got to go to his first Field Trials and wanted to run with the “big boys”, got a towelling down for which he was grateful. However, he was told that the “big boys” don’t get towelled down and if he wanted to be like them, he would have to toughen up.

The trek and bath lasted about two hours. All three of us were ready for a nap afterwards."

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