Friday, November 20, 2015

A Day Off

I have use-it-or-lose-it vacation days that need to be used up so I've scheduled some for each week between now and the end of the year. Friday was the first of those days. It was a beautiful day and there was nothing I really had to do, so I spent most of the day doing a series of "Maya plus one" walks.

Walking two dogs is a piece of cake after doing three or four dogs at once for so long now and it also led me to a discovery: the critical mass for stupid dog behavior is three German Shepherds.* Walking two is a dream, very little pulling, a very pleasant walk.

Maya and Trooper were up first. Trooper really is Maya's favorite walking companion and all around favorite dog period. She loves that guy. On Thursday I had made my monthly trip to the dump and returned home to find that Trooper had taken something off the kitchen counter and chewed it up. I was going to the brewery that evening, with Maya, so I crated Trooper and the others to avoid any further mishaps. Maya didn't like that I had crated Trooper and she refused to come downstairs to go with me. Maya has never refused to go with me, anywhere. She absolutely insists on it, but she wouldn't go with Trooper locked up in the crate. As soon as I released him, she came running down the stairs ready to go.

A beautiful tree is a beautiful tree even without its leaves. 

I took Trooper back home and then Maya and I went out with Theo. He is a pleasant walking companion unless and until he spots a deer, but today we didn't see any and we had a nice, rather slow paced walk.

In front of the house at Pleasant Grove there are all these slices of tree trunks from some very large trees they had taken out. It's like a field of pedestals and Theo is very cooperative about jumping up on them and sitting for the camera. That dog doesn't have a bad side, so it was easy to take a lot of pictures and hard to choose just a couple to post here.

Each of the first two walks was 2.5 miles, so Maya and I were already up to five miles for the day when I started out on the third walk with Max. The EasyWalk harness works wonders with Max, virtually eliminating the pulling. Now when he pushes forward and I pull back, he tends to rear up on his hind legs like a horse. It's much easier on my back and probably a lot easier on his neck because I had resorted to using a prong collar on him when we walked and he would pull even with that.

* There's an asterisk by my statement above about three dogs being the critical mass for stupid shepherd behavior. The qualifier needed is that it's three German Shepherds or one Max. Actually Max is great on the trails generally and he's even learned my verbal "left" and "right" commands for intersections as well as Maya. But, when Max spots prey, being it deer, squirrel, or any small animal, all higher function brain activity shuts down and he has only one goal, one thought, and he can not be reasoned with. We had a couple squirrel and deer sightings on the three mile Max hike this afternoon, but the harness made it easier to handle, and not having a third dog made it easier too when they shifted into preydrive.

Our Max walk was three miles for a total of eight for Maya and me.

There were a couple of hours between the third hike and the fourth one. By the time Maya and I started out with Gigi the sun was very low in the sky, which gave everything it touched a beautiful golden glow.  I had been debating between taking Gigi or Sparky on the last walk of the day and I decided on Gigi based on the likelihood of encountering other people and dogs at Pleasant Grove at this time of day. It was a good choice.

As we were walking past the soccer fields I spotted a free running dog running in the soccer fields, and a man and woman some distance off, presumably his owners. You aren't supposed to let dogs run on the soccer or baseball fields because kids play there and they don't want to be stepping in dog shit. Fair enough, but people do anyway, and these folks were letting this dog, a young black lab, run anywhere he wanted. The dog came over and he was friendly, just wanting to play, but we just tried to mind our own business and head our own way. The dog followed, of course, and repeatedly tried to hump Gigi even after Maya sternly warned him and ran him off. The owners were heading towards us but not making any hurried effort to get there and contain their dog. I crossed the road and was about to head down a trail but it was obvious that the lab would be coming with us and the owners would never catch up so I stopped. The owner, an old man, finally got there and took hold of his dog. But instead of attaching the leash he was carrying, he began hitting the dog with it. That's when we had words.

Up to that time I had just been annoyed that he was an irresponsible dog owner, but now it was obvious that he was a full blown fucking asshole and I told him so. The woman (his daughter?) removed the dog and started walking toward their car. The useless old man wanted to act like a tough guy, so he tried to defend his stupidity but Maya, Gigi, and I just went on our way. I should have just let the dog follow us, brought him home, and found him a new home.

Gigi's walk was just over two miles, which was long enough for her and it made a total of 10 miles for the day.  I need more days off. 

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