This is a warning to all of you young human-trainers out there. Be careful. Your people can slip away so quickly.
Last Saturday, Susan took me for a wonderful long hike. We picked up Girlfriend 1 and Girlfriend 2, so I knew it was going to be a grand adventure! We went to Chichaqua Bottoms and the 3 women got their packs on and their hiking sticks out. I made sure I had all 4 paws. The most wonderful thing about this place - dogs don't have to be leashed! So I did not have to be Molly Go-Behind. I was Molly the Fearless Leader.
I led them all through the wetlands, and then I found the trail in the woods. I knew Susan would love it, because she has a shirt that says, Going to the Woods is Going Home.
I love the woods as well and what do you know, after we'd walked a short way, I saw a rabbit. He was just asking to be chased so I looked for the three women, but they were being kind of pokey, so I told them to STAY and I chased that rabbit right into the woods. I was faster than he was, but he was smaller and could go under things while I had to go over. So, after a merry chase that left me panting, I turned back to find Susan.
Sometimes, despite all your training, they act like humans. She didn't STAY. I had no idea where she was. Oh, I could hear her hollering, but not very well, what with my panting and the wind blowing. I looked for her a little. I looked for another rabbit a little, too.
Then, after a while, Girlfriend 2 met me on the trail, right about where I'd told Susan to STAY. I was very happy to see her, and she seemed happy to see me. But she held on to my harness and tried to send a text on her phone. So I jumped up and licked her face and she even came down on the ground to wrestle around with me. Then, we went down the trail a little ways and found Leigh and Susan, too. I jumped all around and was so happy.
Then, Susan put the leash back on, even though I'd been an excellent leader and found her when she was lost. But we had lunch and I got deer sticks and cheese and peanut butter sandwich, so I was okay.
All in all, it was a wonderful adventure. Susan took this picture of me at the end of the day, so my fur is a little bit rumpled, but I think I look pretty good. We really have to work on those STAYs, though.
I am so excited I can hardly take my eight naps a day.
We are going hiking again. Susan calls it The Great Iowa Adventure. I call it fun.
Gary is packing the truck and I am supervising. Did he get my comfy quilt put on the back seat? Did he put some water in for me? Did he leave lots of room for me to stretch out?
Susan is packing my bag. I'll be a good sport and carry my own water bottles again, even though they bang against my sides when I go fast. And I'll wear my harness and leash. Unless I roll and they accidentally come off.
I also have some meds to take. I had several bloody noses one week. Gary and Susan freaked out! Of course, they seemed more concerned with getting me outside and mopping up all the blood than taking care of my poor nose. Then I had to visit that lady Kylie. She's okay, but she always pokes me with sharp things and looks in my ears and nose and places like that. A dog needs a little privacy! She gave Susan a pokey thing called an Epi pen and when I had another nosebleed, Susan put it in my nose and squirted the medicine out. It worked. The nosebleed stopped. Then Susan started giving me tiny little treats. They're grape flavored and she dips them in peanut butter. I call them delicious, but Susan calls them Benadryl. Anyway, I have quit sneezing so much and have had no nosebleeds for a week.
So we are good to go. I just hope she remembers the deersticks and the tiny bites of cheese. A dog has to keep her energy up when she's on the trail.
These are tough times. But with a few little tips, I can make your training of your stay-at-home human a whole lot easier. You just have to remember a few rules.
1. They must be walked. Do whatever you need to do to get them to pick up that leash and go for a walk. Bark, whine, run around the house like a dog possessed, or just stare at the door until they get the hint and take you outside. The sunshine, the exercise and the time with you will do wonders for their attitudes.
2. You must help them with snacks and meals. They went to the store and bought way too much. They need to share or they will be so obese the will be unable to do rule 1. So nudge that knee under the table, use The Eyes, or just wait until they leave it unsupervised and help yourself. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
3. If you happen to overindulge, it's okay. Just throw up on the carpet. It will give them a chance to use that overstock of toilet paper and paper towels.
4. You must keep them busy in the evening. If they are not occupied, they watch far too much news. So chew on something, bring them all your toys and lay them on their feet, or ask to go out - multiple times. If necessary do something drastic - act like you're going to have "an accident" on the carpet. That gets them out of their chair in a hurry, let me tell you.
5. If they are putting together a 1,000 piece puzzle and they drop a piece, do NOT eat it. They will not be happy with you, even if you digest it well and don't throw it up.
6. Remind them of your therapeutic value. Insist on frequent ear scratching, belly-rubbing and snuggling. It's what we do best.
Take good care of your humans and we will get through this.
My yard is enclosed with a black chain-link fence. I never minded the fence, I assumed it was there to keep Scary Men away. The only time I objected, was when Susan was with me in the yard and then walked through the gate and forgot and shut it behind her before I could follow. Then I poked my nose through the holes and gave her The Eyes.
But when we got home from our Big Trip, I was out in the side yard with Susan on her leash and I found a Tasty Treat. I was just about to gobble it down when Susan forced my mouth open and made me spit it out. How rude.
So, a few weeks later I was outside in the backyard by myself and I got to thinking about that Tasty Treat. My nose told me it was still there. And the fence was wiggly right in the part across the side yard. I pushed against it. And then I wiggled my body right under the fence. I ate the Tasty Treat, and I found out how I could take a walk without dragging Susan along!
The next day, Gary put some stakes in the yard to hold the fence down. Ha! Those things could be pulled right out. This time, my good friend, Gwen, who lives two houses down, walked me home. How nice of her!
Next, Gary tried some pieces of rebar to strengthen and tighten the fence. But, I am very agile. And I went through again. I was liking those walks by myself.
Gary thought he could outsmart me. So he stacked bricks all along the bottom of the fence. A little brick is nothing. I just rolled it over, out of my way, and wiggled through.
This time a nice man I had never met walked me home. He wasn't even scary.
Then Gary went to the lumberyard and got two long boards. He and Susan worked a long time fastening the boards to the posts and the fence to the boards.
They think they can keep me in. But I am Houdini Dog. I will show them!
Gary, Susan and I have just returned from a six week trip to the southern states.
This trip only reminded me that I still have more work to do. I hate to admit it, but Susan and Gary aren't perfectly trained yet. The trip started well. They stopped at restaurants to go hunting and brought me the best portions. Susan took me on some great hikes and didn't always make me "go behind."
But then we parked at a campground on the Alabama/Mississippi border. The park was nice enough, a big lake, trails through the forest. But someone had let CATS into the park. And Gary would not let me off my leash to chase them out of there. And then, after we had gone into the camper for the night, Susan filled a plate with scrambled eggs and other wonderful tasty treats. I was so excited, certain she was fixing it for me because I had been such a good dog. But, no. She carried it out and put it on the picnic table and let that CAT eat it!
And then there was the morning I couldn't get Susan out of bed. She is getting rather lazy, if you ask me. But Gary was up and he offered to let me out to do my morning peemail. I stood patiently while he attached the long outside cable to my collar. Then, he told me to go. But, he hadn't unlooped the cable from the handle that the humans need to get into the camper. I nearly hung myself before he untangled it.
And there were many times they forgot and left me in the camper. Sometimes for days. Well, that's what it felt like.
But we did have some good times.
Hiking in the marsh in Louisiana.
Running in the Gulf. Oh, would someone please figure out how to get all that salt out of the water! So disappointing when you lap it up.
Gazing at the mountaintops in Georgia.
But the best place of all is home sweet home. My couch, my unlimited naps, my snowy yard. Ahhh. I'll worry about more training of the humans later.
Susan doesn’t intend to be mean. But, sometimes, she just doesn’t understand.
A few weeks ago, I was on a delightful walk with my best friend in all the world, Teddy.
Isn’t he just the most handsome dog ever?
We were walking the Out and Back Trail in Carlisle that goes through the Lost Forty timber near where we both used to live. Teddy’s mom, Amy, and Susan had graciously let us off our leashes and we were taking advantage of all the sniffs. Even though it was chilly, we also took a dip in the pond. Ahhh, refreshing.
I found an interesting skull, but Susan made me drop it.
We'd reached our turn-around point and were on our return journey, when I caught a whiff. And just like that, I hopped off that cement trail, dashed into the woods, under an old barbed wire fence, and found it. An entire deer. Dead, but still fresh. I was ready to dive right in when I heard Susan call. I wanted to obey, but the deer was right there in all its meaty goodness. I took a nibble.
I could still hear Susan calling, but she'd moved down the trail and the sound of her voice was fainter. I could easily catch her when I wanted. I knew where she was going, she never gets off the path. I settled into some serious dining.
After a bit, I heard the voices again. Louder. Teddy, Amy, the kid Sophie, and Susan were all tromping through the woods to find me. I did what every obedient dog does. I tried to come and bring the dead deer with me. But all my tugging and pulling didn’t move that deer one inch. Susan caught me in mid-pull. I just knew she would help drag the deer back to the car so we could both enjoy it. And maybe share it with Teddy and his family.
Then, she did the unthinkable. She snapped on my leash and pulled me away from it. She left the deer!
So, if you’re walking the Out and Back trail and go into the woods at the top of the hill, that dead deer is MINE.
You may bring it to me at my house by Easter Lake. And then, I will be thankful.
I did it. I walked Susan and Girlfriend (Leigh) the whole length of the Appalachian trail through Shenandoah National Park. It took me 13 days to do it. Girlfriend had to leave on day 11 and Angela joined us for the last 4 days, but I did every step.
Umm, there was one day I developed a tiny sore on one of my paws. Now mind you, this was a day I dragged Susan almost the entire way. And the next morning she forgot to take me. But I'm sure they got lost that day, wandered around, and made no headway.
When we are hiking I do not like to "go behind" but I found it did give me a good perspective of the trail from both up ahead and behind. So, it was my choice.
It worked out well except for the day we met the dog-eating horseflies. One of them took a bite out of my fluffy side and then I refused to do that silly "go behind."
While hiking, it is important to stop now and then and drink. I am proud to say, I carried my own water - 2 bottles on each side of my pack. But the best stops were when Girlfriend, Susan, and Angela brought out the beef sticks, cheese, or peanut butter. I sometimes had to remind them that I had worked harder than them and I deserved a treat. Girlfriend remembered better than Susan, so I sat by her.
One of my favorite spots was the summit of Little Calf Mountain. It was a wonderful wide open space with so many sumptuous smells. Susan even let go of the leash for awhile and I wandered a bit. I enjoyed that so much that when we got back on the trail I jerked the leash right out of her hand to chase a critter that needed to be chased. I don't know why she had that frantic look on her face when I came back.
But my favorite day of all was the day we found Ivy Creek. We'd been climbing all those mountains, and here was this wonderful pool of water. I demanded Susan take off my pack and let me swim. She did.
Immediately after swimming here, I may have gone a bit crazy in my joy over the water, and I just may have slid down a rock into a pool where I needed a bit of help getting out. But that is a story for another day.
Traveling with your human tops everything else. You can go camping or hiking. You see and smell and taste new things. But there are a few things you need to teach your human so you both can have the best experience ever.
Yesterday we were at Salt Fork State Park in eastern Ohio. I took Susan for a 4 mile hike in the woods up and down and all around. Wonderful!
Today we came to our last stop before we get to Shenandoah Park. There is a famous trail here that runs through the campground. It's called the Allegheny Passage. I took Susan for a walk on it. And then she let me go in the Youghiogheny River. Pronounce that one if you can!
Hiking at Salt Fork State Park.
I'm worn out from hiking. Gary???
Lake at Salt Fork.
When Susan first brought me home, I trusted no one. If Strangers came to the house, I hid. But some of those Strangers came again and again. And brought deer sticks. And had a wonderful way of scratching my ears.
So I began to make friends. Slowly and cautiously because you never know where a Scary Man might be lurking.
Then, one Friend started hiking with Susan and me. Yipee! When we were with her, we went on longer and better hikes to lakes where I could swim, and forests where they let me run off leash. I call her Girlfriend, but Susan calls her Leigh. And she is going to Virginia with us to hike the Appalachian Trail.
She has long legs and can walk faster than Susan. And she always shares her treats with me. She is a True Friend.
If Susan doesn't shape up soon, I may go home with Girlfriend.
Oh, how I love to go for a walk! Many of you know that I plan to take Susan to Virginia and hike the section of the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park. So we are doing lots of what she calls training. I call it glorious.
My favorite way to walk is off leash. Susan doesn't allow this very often, I'm not sure why. So we usually compromise and she takes me on the retractable leash. This allows me enough freedom that I can do lots of sniffing, maybe a quick roll before she pulls me up short, and even a tiny bite of something forbidden. (I really do not understand humans' objection to goose poop.)
But sometimes, Susan tells me to "walk behind." I do not like to do this. She doesn't move fast enough, she doesn't stop to sniff, and she never rolls in the grass. A few weeks ago we were hiking some mountain bike trails, and she would allow me to lead and pull her up the hill, but then at the top, just when I could really get out and move, she would give me the dreaded "go behind."
What's up with that?
So, now I am working to teach her to walk on a leash. I always lead, I set the pace, we stop where I want to stop, and we go where I want to go. Remember, I have my PhD. (Professional human-training dog.)