Winter Dog Days

Oh, please. Another picture?

Last week my eight month old puppy and I had a few relaxing outings to the Escambia County (Florida) Equestrian Center.  With a new pedometer strapped onto my jeans I hoped to put in my recommended 10,000 steps, at the same time spending quality time with my dog.  The walk was great but hardly the four miles I expected to complete.  We looped into and out of the woods, starting the walk in fog and ending in unseasonably warm, sunny weather.  Catcher has been taught not to pull me when we are on walks so we both had a pleasant time.  He is the first dog that I have NOT attached a flexi leash when walking.  A dog which walks in front of you is the leader.  Asking an intact male puppy to take the lead is not a good idea.  So we jaunted together with him on a loose 6’ leather leash. He is allowed to sniff and potty and stop and smell the bushes.  But when I say, “Let’s go”, he has to leave what he is doing immediately and come along with me.  That concept hasn’t been a problem with this dog.  It has been for my dogs in the past as they disrespected me and clearly let me know this walk was on their dime, not mine.  I could wait until they were done or pull or drag them from whatever held their interest.  But as humans we “own” the walk just like we “own” the food and toys. 

The following day Catcher and I walked again, into the woods, underneath the high tension wires, enjoying the warmer weather.  At the same time we were wandering through the sand and pine needle covered trails, there was a four day agility trial going on in the covered horse arena.  I could hear one of my friends announcing over the PA system. 

On Saturday I brought along my Border Collie, Levi, who happily joined Catcher and I on our walk.  You would think walking two high energy dogs would be a problem.  But Catcher has been taught from early on to walk alongside Levi without interfering.  They seem to enjoy each other’s company, allowing the three of us get some more exercise.  No, I won’t add River to the mix.  River has a bit of a respect issue.  He feels like he should have first dibs on new smells and curls his lip if some other dog tries to sniff something along side him. He doesn’t growl.  He just does the small lip curl, the canine, “Back off”, signal. 

In the back of my mind I always worry about meeting another person and a loose dog.  I can handle two dogs but a third may be a bit much.  River has to get his exercise chasing squirrels in the back yard and occasionally being a demo dog for my tracking class.  Both activities make him very happy.  Just going for a ride in the car makes his tail wag enthusiastically so sometimes I take him along when I put gas in the car.  This is my life, making sure my Border Collies are content!

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