Find Your Trail

To Find Your Trail

I am a firm believer in getting your dogs out in the area they are “living” (or even just staying for a short while) and getting to know it well, and finding good trails to follow. When a dog is stuck inside their home (or even if they have access to a yard) and never gets to go anywhere in their neighbourhood, they don’t know where they _are_ and if they ever get loose (and the chances of a dog escaping the confines of their prison – and it is a prison to a dog, as nice as it might be – at every opportunity are very high when they don’t get out at all) they get lost all the more quickly. If a dog knows where his or her home is, what all the landmarks and smells are around it, where the dogs are, where the roads are, they tend to be less panicked and fearful (sometimes it might take a little longer for them to calm down) and can find their way home on their own.

So, now wherever we live, I always get my dogs out into the area as soon as I can. We start small: Just a walk around the block, or around 2 blocks, or in different directions up and down the road we are on until we know the area very well. We then venture a little further, going 20 minutes in one direction and then turning back. We then look for loops and roads that return to ours. Big blocks, medium blocks, lots of small blocks.

Don’t be afraid to  turn around and go back the way you came – dogs don’t care. If you cross the road, it means even MORE new things to sniff!

 

Once you have walked completely around your neighbourhood (as far as you can go safely, of course) and you know it very well, head to Google Maps

I have found MANY wonderful trails and greenbelts by doing this. I’ve discovered secret lakes and ponds, wide open fields in the middle of a city, forest trails that start at the end of my street! Even if you find one and walk there and then discover there’s a fence in the way that you couldn’t see on the map – it’s ok! Follow the fence, or check the map later for places you can see a path emerging from the trees.

You can also start looking further afield: I start in my ‘hood, but I always end up finding places and trails about 5 or 10 minutes drive away. I then look for places to park safely, and hopefully a shady spot if it’s spring/summer (especially here in Georgia) and the entrance to a trail. Also – find OTHER small neighbourhoods and go check those out. Park in a public area (a park, or a playground area) and head off around the ‘hood. Your dogs will LOVE the chance to sniff and piddle on these new hunting grounds. You can even take a drive around the new area first, with windows down, nice and slowly, so you can check it out before you start walking – check for loose dogs, bad fences, chained dogs, “no dogs” signs, glass on the sidewalk, thorny patches etc.

If you’re tired of the street, go check Google Maps for green areas, forests, parks.  These are for daily walks, mostly.

If you have more time on a weekend, research places during the week and head off on a Saturday or Sunday morning, nice and early. We discovered a dam and a lake and a beautiful beach this way! You can also look up the local nature parks and hiking/biking trails – look at alltrails.com (you don’t have to get the pro version to find awesome places to walk, and they all come with comments and helpful information about water access, toilet access, and if dogs are allowed) or look for the State Parks website for your state.

Check out forums for local hikers/mountain bikers and you will find loads of information there too.

When I go walking anywhere new (street or forest or trail or farm) I carry a small backpack with the following necessities: Poop bags. A 2 liter water canteen and large collapsible water bowl for the dogs (winter or summer, they are thirsty fluffs). If it’s hot weather, I will bring a 500 ml bottle of water for myself. Wipes for paws/hands/etc. A small first aid kit. A toy – preferably squeaky, but that’s my dogs’ personal choice. A spare lead. Treats! Very important! I also carry my phone, a torch/headlamp, a tick twister, a whistle, and some para-cord. You never know. Might sound like a lot, but I like to be prepared, and you get used to the weight of it. We stop for a water break and a rest every 1 km when it’s hot, and maybe every 2 km when it’s nice and cold out – I go by the dogs and how they are feeling. Odin will ask for water if he wants it, and Azzie just flops down and won’t go any further if she is too tired or hot and wants water.

 

Do some research before you head out on a trail or forest walk: Know what snakes are in the area, and any predators you might encounter. Be aware and alert at all times, but try not to work yourself up into an anxious state, as this is a real downer to dogs because they spend the walk LOOKING for something to be scared of or react to. Simply be aware of your surroundings, learn what types of places to avoid (fallen trees – snakes love hiding under them) and never do anything too extreme if you are on your own (don’t climb down a ravine, unless you can see an appropriate exit path that you AND your dogs can get up without too much hassle). Be as quiet as you can – that way you can hear anything out of the ordinary, AND you get to enjoy the sounds of nature around you. Dogs also like silence, by the way – but the occasional recall for a treat and a “good dog” when they do, makes a world of difference to them as well. Be respectful – you are walking among living things: not just the trees, but animals call this their home. Don’t destroy things, or pick things that you shouldn’t. Leave tracks, not trash. If you can REACH the spot your dog pooped (especially on or next to the trail you are walking) please pick it up. I normally take my dogs to the dog park first, so they can poop etc, and I can pick up and throw it away and I don’t have to carry poop bags around for the entire walk. Sometimes, though, one or two of my dogs will go a second time if the walk is long enough to warrant it. If I can get to it easily, I will pick it up. If it’s in brambles, or thorn trees, or thick undergrowth (snakes!) then I tend to leave it. I do try, but I’m not getting my hand torn up by thorns, or bitten by a snake, or covered in poison ivy, just to pick up a poop that nobody is going to be going anywhere near anyway. Just being honest.

If you are someone like me who can sometimes get turned around if the trail has many offshoots or crossroads, then use your phone to take a photo at each junction, of the direction you came and the direction you are going. If you don’t want to use your phone, then find a few pieces of wood or sticks/branches, and make a double arrow – pointing the way you came, and the way you went. It’s saved me a few times when I thought I knew where I was, but ended up going in a circle… If there are no sticks around, find a pile of leaves and place those at the entrances to the path you are leaving and the path you are entering. That also works.

Main and final point: Get outside! Find adventure! Your dogs will love it – you bond so much more with your dogs if you walk together, and the longer the walk the better. Tired dogs are happy dogs. Dirty dogs are even happier 😀 Also – don’t be afraid to get dirty, wear good shoes that are appropriate to the ground you will be covering, and sunscreen if it’s hot, and lots of insect repellent. Pack a spare light jacket if you are walking in winter or if it’s undecided whether it will rain or not.

Day Thirteen and it just gets better

So I decided to just blog daily for the first two weeks of Odin’s adventure with us and then after that I will blog every few days which is back to my “usual” schedule – I think that’s a good length of time for people to see the changes in him and his life with us and my girls and their relationship with him.

 

I will keep everyone updated on his training and progress, and my girls as well – because we’re ALWAYS in training, right?

This morning the dogs and I decided to show daddy another one of our “new” paths – our long walk in the farmlands across the busy road. He was a little nervous about crossing the road with Odin, but we showed him that Odin and the girls are totally fine and we zip across the road and then head out on a LOVELY walk. We just have to wait for a “quiet” moment and then we run!

So we did this, and had a great walk with daddy – Odin was off lead the WHOLE WALK and he listened beautifully. As did Azzie and Gina (of course!)

Here are some photos!

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And here are some videos!

Day Ten of the adventure

This morning we decided to head across the busy road this time, to our favourite long farm walk.

Gina, Azzie and Odin had a zoomie session on the one plowed area and then I popped Odin back on his lead as he then spotted something in the grass and had a think about chasing it (might have been a rabbit – there were quite a few around today)

He was super good though while off lead – listened when I called etc.

Nice and crisp and cold out there this morning, thankfully – so we walked at a good pace (Odin kept up just fine: in fact he was an eager boy and was ahead most of the way)
Lots of ticks *shudder* and I’m just hoping the fact that I could SEE them and they were walking around on the dogs and not hiding, that it means the stuff I put on is working… because I’ve found a couple biting the girls, but they have been there a while – so not sure if they were attached before I put anti-tick stuff on.
Put stuff on Odin yesterday too.

A good walk. All dogs pooped – all EXCELLENT 🙂

When we got home, I was picking ticks off Azzie’s fur  – I HATE TICKS. So now I feel like I have them walking all over me. *squirm*

 

In theory, husband might be home today. Not holding my breath, and I won’t get excited until I see him standing in front of me. I know the dogs will be over the moon. It’s been a very long time since they saw daddy, and Odin will be totally ecstatic, as my husband is his rescuer 🙂

 

Here are a couple of photos of our lovely walk:

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And here are a couple of videos of G, Az and Ods doing zoomies and playing 🙂

I lost another half a pound this morning…. I’m pretty excited. This portion control thing really works.

 

I was going to go to the shops straight away after our walk this morning but I was firstly too damn hungry (so I had my toast and tea) and I am tired from the walk too. So I’ll chill a little bit, and then head off.

Odin is the only one who ate “second” breakfast – despite Azzie not eating her breakfast this morning either. She eats later now, I’ve noticed. I also don’t think she’s keen on the salmon oil that I put on their food in the mornings. :/ It’s so good for them, but maybe I’ll swap hers to the evening rather.

Some photos from this morning’s walk in the wald

Here you go – a few shots from this morning’s walk.

As I said, Odin stayed on his lead for 99% of it, as he was a bit nervous when off  – new places take him a little while to get comfortable in. He’s doing very well though.

Day Three and the secret pond

It started out way too early. It was Odin’s final “test night” in the crate and he went in willingly enough, but around 3am he got very restless and I _think_ he was whining, but I don’t really know (my ears ring when the pressure changes and sometimes I can’t hear things at certain wavelengths :/ thanks, head injury) so I thought maybe he needed to to poop as the last time he went was much earlier in the day, around lunch time. So I very tiredly got up, got G and Az’s collars on in case they wanted to go down and got the little man out of his den and took him down. He peed, and we wandered around for about 10 minutes, but apparently he didn’t need to… so then I went back up, got Azzie, took her down… then Gina… and then came back to bed and put him back in his crate. I wasn’t willing to take the chance just yet, because he’d not pooped. He went in just fine, with a big sigh though.

We all went back to bed for an hour or so and then I definitely heard him whining, and he was very restless. This was around 0600. Which I suppose is the “normal” time for him to go to the loo (if he was still back where my husband found him, that would be when he would be taken outside) and this time he DID go! I made a BIG fuss and gave him a treat and fussed him some more after I picked it up.

Gina and Azzie were WAY too tired to go down again – they stayed upstairs and Gina didn’t even move from my bed. 🙂

Now, I left him out of his crate and he settled down with a big happy waggy body and tail thump, on Gina’s bed. I was still “alert” for anything weird, but I managed to doze a little bit and the girls snored their heads off in the bedroom with me. Ods didn’t even move from the bed 🙂

So tonight is the night… he can stay out of his crate – as long as he poops in the evening before bed.

We’re still working on the trust. It’s only day three of the adventure.

This morning’s walk! WOW! What a GREAT one!

The dogs STINK, they are dirty, muddy and happy and very tired 🙂

DSCN1732 DSCN1735 DSCN1738 DSCN1740 DSCN1742              DSCN1840 DSCN1850 DSCN1857 DSCN1858
DSCN1747DSCN1751DSCN1757DSCN1766DSCN1789DSCN1790DSCN1804DSCN1805DSCN1809DSCN1818DSCN1837DSCN1762DSCN1838I decided to give the whole traveling in the car together thing a try this morning – daring, I know. Didn’t QUITE work out the way I wanted, but it worked. On the way to the secret pond, G and Az took up the whole back seat, as they like to, so poor Odin had to sit in the back/boot – don’t worry the top is off, so he could sit up and look out (which he did a few times – but he can’t sit up properly yet because of his back leg) and he was fine.
On the way back home, Odin hopped in after Azzie (she was in her usual spot behind me) and then lay down, because that’s what he does. He doesn’t understand sitting up with his head out the window… yet.
So I asked Gina to hop in the front on the passenger seat. She did and then climbed across to my side, but I managed to get her back on the passenger side and in a comfortable sitting position. She likes to lie down on the way home though, so she wasn’t QUITE as happy as I would have liked. She rested her whole head and neck on the window so she could snooze.
But the walk! The walk was AWESOME 🙂 Odin is definitely part Galgo – he wanted to RUN RUN RUN and chase Azzie all over, but his leg was too sore, so he would start running, have fun and then realise he was sore so he would come to me and whine at me. We took a lot of breaks, but had a lovely walk and he ALMOST got into the secret pond to swim 🙂 Next time, I’m sure he will! Even though he’d never been to this area before, he was very confident and happy – especially at Azzie’s side.

As you will see in the videos – he is FULL of energy and playfulness – and that makes my heart warm 🙂 I’m sure it will make my husband happy to see it as well.

He did get away from me, but didn’t run away, just chased Azzie around until they both got too tangled to carry on.

Azzie was much kinder to him and raced around a bit, and Gina played with him on numerous occasions and tried her best to get him into the pond with her 🙂

A GORGEOUS walk. I kept it short, as I didn’t want to overexert him and it was also quite warm, so I didn’t want to make the girls too hot.

 

Here are some videos – it’s hard to hold the little camera steady while being dragged off all over the place, but I did my best.

A bit of a hodgepodge, as that’s how the compression software put them together.