Life with Sampson and Delilah….The 411

Archive for the ‘Hiking’ Category

Would You Pay?

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but much of my thinking about what to blog about is done on our walks.

Not only do I depend upon the dogs to provide me entertainment and material, I often times am thinking of something one of you wrote about, whether it be in a post or a comment.  If I’m not doing that, I’m daydreaming.

Here is my latest daydream, it’s for a dog park that is completely fenced in, so all dogs can be off-leash.

There would be a nice field, for fetching or playing games and a great big pond for swimming.  There would also be wooded trails and picnic tables so a person or family could go and make a day of it.

There would always be someone on duty during hours of operation and you would check in at a little gate and get a wrist band for yourself and your dog would get a matching band that would attach to the collar.  This would be designed along the lines of the bracelets used on maternity wards to prevent someone other than you leaving with your dog.

The park would offer classes, such as rally, agility, nosework, obedience, etc.

It would look something like this:

The blue circle indicates the pond, while the dark green circle is the playing/training field.  The smaller squares of green are trees, while the brown squares would be the walking trails.  The two gray lines in the front indicate the path in to the park and the large gray building to the right of the path is the guard shack.  The red lines are picnic tables.

Of course this is just a quick sketch meant to give you a general idea.  I forgot to add a large indoor ring that could be used to hold matches or indoor training when the weather is poor.

The park would definitely be a member’s only park.  There would be specific rules and regulations and all dogs would need to be friendly and you would need to sign something saying you agreed to the rules.

Here’s the question, if something like this were available in your area would you pay to belong?  How much would something like this be worth to a dog owner?

Would a park like this generate enough money to pay for the taxes and any upkeep as well as the security and trainers, or would it need to supplement by offering classes to the general public and reduced classes to members?

Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.

Here Has Many Meanings

We’ve had a humid streak in the northeast for the last few months.  It’s actually been so bad that I’ve had to keep the dog’s walks to about 30 minutes.  Much more than that and we are all just about ready to drop.  Even on those mornings when we’ve been able to get out early, the humidity really does us in.

Friday night we got some big thunder storms which thankfully drove the humidity away.

Hubby and I take turns sleeping in on the weekends.  Unless Hubby has to work on Saturdays, that is his day to sleep in, while mine is Sunday.  I love sleeping in on Sundays.

Yesterday was no exception.  I’m not sure if it was the cooler, fresh air pouring in through the open windows or the Xanax I took just before bed, but I slept pretty darn good; only pulling my lazy butt out of bed just before nine.

It was so nice yesterday morning I couldn’t wait to get out with the dogs in the cool morning air.

As I’ve noted before, I’m calling the dogs back to me quite frequently.

What I found out yesterday is the Here command can be used for more than one purpose.

Delilah loves to roll in things, especially when she’s in the soccer field.

Usually it’s a clump of fresh-cut grass, but you never know with Delilah.  I’ve caught her rolling in worse.

I can tell she’s on the scent of something and I try to distract her, but some days it’s just inevitable that Delilah will roll in something.

Yesterday was one of those days.

She was just too quick for me.  Maybe it was the after effects of the Xanax but before I knew it there Delilah was rolling around on the ground.

Here, I said reaching into my treat bag.

She immediately stopped what she was doing, jumped up and ran over to me. 🙂

Focusing on just one command has been beneficial to the dogs but it has also been really good for me.  It is far easier to remember one command rather than here, come, leave-it, wait, sit, down.

Well you get the point. 🙂

Traveling In The Wrong Pack

Most of the people who follow this blog and train dogs, work with the positive reinforcement method.  I train this way because I want my dogs and I to have a bond and I believe that is achievable through positive reinforcement training.

A couple of years ago I stopped at a tag sale a couple of streets away. I was very impressed with a woman and her dogs, they stayed calmly in the yard and followed her around.  I told her how I was struggling with Delilah.

The woman went in the house and brought out a postcard stating she was a dog trainer along with all of her contact information.  She asked if I would like to walk with her sometime.  I told her I would love that.

I waited a day or so (I didn’t want to seem TOO eager) and contacted her via facebook.  She asked if I wanted to walk and I said yes.  I then gave her my schedule for the week.

I never heard from her again.

In retrospect, this was a blessing in disguise.

This is the same woman I mentioned in my Passive-Aggressive post.

The same woman who deliberately left her dogs for seven to ten anxious, panicked filled moments, while she taught them a lesson about traveling with the wrong pack.

The same woman who thinks dogs have the capability of being passive-aggressive.

The same woman who lets her dogs roam all over the woods with no regard for anyone else or their dogs.

The same woman who has no identification of any kind on her dog.

As I stood there in the woods last Saturday listening to these two women talk about the archaic methods they use to train their dogs, I took a moment to say a prayer of thanks that I don’t travel in her pack.

Clueless

The park at the top of the street isn’t an off-leash dog park.  Heck it isn’t even a dog park if you want to be technical.  It’s a soccer field surrounded by trails.

Most people who walk on the trails either have a dog, or have had a dog in the past.  Most of these people walk(ed) their dogs at the park off-leash.

There are a lot of people who use this park, but most of them don’t care to walk their dogs with me.  When I mentioned that in a post a couple of days ago, a few of you asked why.

This is the way I see it.

I’m a conscientious dog owner.  I want to make sure that my dogs are well-behaved and respectful.  I do not want to be the reason that animal control says you can’t walk your dogs up here anymore.

Okay, I do admit I fall into that…..what did Kristine call it?

Oh yes…..MDIF (my dog is friendly) category but for the most part I’m very consciousness when I walk my dogs.

I keep my dogs close by and do not like them to be out of my sight for a number of reasons.

Poop

I always pick up after my dogs when they poop.

Okay you got me… if Sampson goes off the trail and poops, no I do not go in after that, and yes  I might sometimes push some poop off the trail if Delilah decides to squat where she’s walking.

But I never, ever leave my dog’s poop anywhere that someone could step in it.  When they poop in the field, I pick it up.

Besides, I need to make sure their having normal poops. 🙂

People

Most of the people walk with dogs, but there are some who walk alone.

Let’s face it, not all people are dog people and those people do not want to come across an unaccompanied dog that they have no idea whether the dog is friendly or not.

This person could call animal control or worse, scare or hurt your dog.

Or your dog could hurt someone else.

“S’s” dog Brady is a jumper.  Not too long ago he jumped on a mentally disabled person causing them to lose their balance.  The person went down a number of stairs, somehow (amazingly) managing to remain on his feet.  Imagine the trouble ‘S’ and Brady would have been in if he hadn’t.

Property

Delilah loves to run off the trail and scope out other people’s property.  She will scrounge around looking for food.  Maybe this doesn’t bother some people, but what if she damaged something?  Remember the time she got caught on the air conditioning unit?  It’s a good thing (for me) that she didn’t do any damage, I would have been responsible for that.

Other dogs

The few people who do walk their dogs on leash do so for a reason.  Perhaps their dogs are fearful, maybe they are runners like Delilah.  They do not want unleashed dogs rushing up to their dog.

One would hope that no-one would let an unpredictable dog off-leash but we all know that not every dog owner is responsible.  I like to supervise any meetings my dogs have.

Injury

We are walking on hiking trails.  This means there are rocks, cliffs and fallen trees.  How can I help my dog if (s)he becomes injured if I do not know where they are?

Not to mention animals.  There are wild animals that could really hurt my dogs up there.  Granted they should not be out during the day, but I’m pretty sure if they’re rabid they don’t worry about what time of day it is.

Illness

I have big dogs, I worry about bloat.  I’m very cautious about making sure we wait two hours after eating.

Sometimes I walk before breakfast, but I still make sure to wait an hour before I feed them their meal.

But there are kids who like to go into the park at night and have bonfires.  They sit around the fire drinking alcohol and baking potatoes.  Not that a potato should hurt my dogs, but you never know what else those kids are doing.

And it’s not just food items that can be dangerous, there are bugs, small animals and plants that can be dangerous to your dogs.  If you don’t know where your dog is you cannot monitor what your dog is eating.  And if you don’t know what your dog ate, you can’t tell the vet and get the proper treatment.

You get the point, right?

Most people who walk their dogs where I walk don’t think like this.  Walking with me doesn’t jive with their way of thinking.

I sometimes feel like I’m the only one who walks up there that even has a clue about what could happen with/to their dog.

Are you like me, surrounded by people who don’t train the same way you do?

Passive-Aggressive

Everyone knows Delilah’s on a long leash.  It’s a pain in the bum walking in the woods with a dog on a leash.  None of the people who walk their dogs in our woods likes to walk with me because of the way I train my dogs.

None of them use treats, none of them use leashes.  There is no boo-hooing on my part, those are the facts.  The truth of the matter is, I don’t like the way any of them train their dogs either, so I’m quite content walking with my dogs.

By myself.

While on our Saturday walk we ran into Brady and his mom, ‘S.’   After a few minutes we ran into the dog trainer, ‘B.’

Trust me the irony of the ‘B’ and ‘S’ initials are not lost on me.  But those are really the initials of their first names.

‘B’ usually has at least six dogs with her, she’s told me before her car can’t hold more than six.  Some of these dogs are hers and I believe some of them are fosters.

‘B’ and ‘S’ were talking on the walk and ‘B’ said, adoption fees have gone up to $450.00 so she was not going to do it anymore.

I said, it’s better than paying a breeder thousands of dollars.

She countered that most of the dogs she gets are results of people not spaying their animals. (I’ll give her that, I have no idea where she gets her dogs from.)

We reached a turn in the path and ‘S’ and I, along with Sampson, Delilah and Brady made the turn.  Up ahead of us, was one of ‘B’s’ dogs.

B’s dog was up past where Sampson is in the photo, while B was further back than I was.

‘B’ stood at the beginning of the trail and said, he doesn’t see me.

‘S’ said go ahead and call him ‘B.’

‘B’ turned and went the other way.

It was at this point that I had called Delilah to me, and Sampson, Brady and ‘B’s’ dog all came running.  While I was doling out treats we were joined by another one of her dogs.  They traveled with us for a short distance and then they went off.

‘S’ and I stopped to chat about Brady’s behavior and how she was going to take the advice of the dog trainer at Cabella’s and jack his electric collar up because she was tired of his behavior.

Naturally I lodged my protest, but it fell on deaf ears.

‘B’ then arrived with four of her dogs, the other two still  MIA.

None of ‘B’s dogs wear collars and unless they’re chipped, they have no identification on them what-so-ever, in fact I’m not even sure they are registered with the town.  So if someone found these dogs, they would more than likely call animal control.

‘S’ said the trainer at Cabella’s (who by the way does this for free) said her dog cannot sleep on her bed with her, he must sleep on the floor, maybe even in his crate because otherwise she is not the pack leader.

‘B’ started on about a dog being passive-aggressive.  Her example was a dog jumps up on the couch and comes over and puts his paw on your shoulder.  In his mind he’s elevating himself above you, but he’s not being aggressive.

Personally I don’t believe dogs are capable of that particular thought process.

But I played Sergeant Shultz, I said nothing.

The talk then turned to her two missing dogs and she said, they chose to travel with the wrong pack, we went off to a party and they spent the time stressed and anxious.  They’ll think twice next time.

I know when you are training a dog off-leash you play a lot of hide-n-seek.  Where you pop around a tree and wait a few seconds for your dog to ‘find’ you.  This was not hide-n-seek.  She left those dogs for a full five to seven minutes.

I said, it doesn’t matter to Delilah, she’s gotten stuck before but that won’t stop her from running off.

‘B’ said, well she trained you a long time ago.

Talk about a passive-aggressive statement.  It ticked me off so bad I wanted to rip off her arm and beat her over the head with it.

There’s no passive in that aggression.

(Yes her dogs did show up.  Apparently they went to wait for her by the car and returned to her when they heard her voice.)

Practice Makes Perfect

There are actually two stories that came out of our Saturday walk.  One was AMAZING and one was aggravating.

I was going to write the entire post with both stories and then decided that the really good, exciting thing should be celebrated all by itself with nothing negative involved.

On our Saturday morning walk we ran into Brady and his mom.  We walked for a few minutes and then ran into the dog trainer who always has about six dogs with her.

If the dogs are approaching cautiously I generally keep Delilah on leash.  If the dogs are running at us, I usually drop the leash, let them greet and then pick the leash back up.

I was feeling either brave or crazy Saturday and decided to take Delilah completely off-leash.

I made her wait, while she was un-clipped and then FREE DOG.

Delilah was off-leash.

She stayed right with our little pack as we continued our walk through the woods and when I called her to me, she came right away.

I guess in retrospect I was feeling brave, because I definitely wasn’t crazy enough to leave her off-leash too long.  I kept it at about five minutes and then secured her once again.

This was the first time she has been unleashed and allowed to run in about six months.

I was so pleased with her and so proud of her.  I wanted to dance a jig through the forest.

What a good girl!

Will I ever let her start our walk off-leash or let her free in the areas I know are tempting?

I’m not sure.

But this small success proved to me how imperative it is for me to work on their recalls every single day.

Practice makes perfect.

Here Here!

Since I’m back to work I’ve got to either 1) walk the dogs on lunch or 2) walk them after work.  I really do prefer to walk them on lunch, but when it’s this hot, I opt for after work.

It was still hot yesterday but thank God the humidity broke.  There’s nothing like walking in 90 degree heat with 90% humidity.  It feels like you went swimming with all your clothes on and you’re just waiting for them to dry.

My pants seem to have a mind of their own and that’s to sag as far down as they possibly can.  I seriously considered putting a pair of boxers on so they could hang over the top.

You don’t believe that do you?

Good because I would never consider that.

Where was I?  Oh yes, the walk.

I normally let Sampson and Delilah pick our walk, I figure it’s their walk too so why shouldn’t they go where they want?  I keep a pretty good eye on them and if it looks like one of them has really committed to a certain path, I gently encourage the other one to go in the same direction.

What really surprises me is how frequently they go to the same trails, all kinds of possibilities yet they still follow the same paths.  I think they are checking their pee mail and waiting to see if they will run into some friends.

We were getting on towards the end of our walk last night when I saw what I thought was a deer running through the trees off to my left.  It caught everyone’s attention and I shouted to Sampson, “No, don’t do it.”  Thankfully he followed instructions and stopped what he was doing.

When I looked up, Bruno (who the dogs know well) was standing staring at us from about 25 yards away.

I shortened Delilah’s leash and told Sampson NO.

He took off after Bruno.

Delilah whined and pulled but I held fast.

Bruno is a big dog, but he’s also a big baby.  As soon as Sampson took off after him, Bruno took off too.

Sampson chased Bruno around a really large rock and I saw Delilah gear up to go and I knew I was a gonner.  So I dropped the leash.

I figured it’s better to chase her through the woods, than get pulled along the trail…on my face.

The dogs all converged at the rock, sniffing each other and I clapped my hands and called, Here, Here, come on let’s go.

What do you suppose happened?

Yup, she came right back to me.  I did the happy dance, gave her some yummy liverwurst, praised and petted her and we finished our walk.

I don’t think I am ready to take her off-leash but it’s nice to know I can give her a small bit of freedom.

Yes I’m Back At Work

I complained to Hubby yesterday after Sampson, Delilah and I got back from our walk.

Maybe it was because I walk in long pants, with a long-sleeved shirt, socks, sneakers and a ball cap and it’s hot as freakin’ hell.  Really, within five minutes (or just as soon as I’ve reached the top of the hill) I’m sweating like a 500 pound man in a 500 degree oven.

Maybe it was because I can’t walk in the summer without  the bugs…well bugging me.  I swear to God a big sucker flew past my ear and was so stinkin loud the other day that the hair on my body stood on end.

Maybe it was because the bugs keep bugging Delilah and I’m constantly asking my dog to stop or wait while I swat at her.

Maybe it was because the dogs get hot and tired too and stop in the middle of the path and block my progress.

Maybe it was because those stupid spiders build their stupid webs across the trail and I’m constantly flailing and screaming like a little girl, and basically look like a lunatic swatting at nothing.

Or maybe, just maybe it was because it was my last day of vacation and I knew how much 1) I didn’t accomplish while I was home, 2) I’ll miss walking the dogs first thing in the morning and 3)  I’d hate going back to work.

Maybe it was all of the above.

Do you have a hard time adjusting after vacation?

A Really Good Recall

As you know, I’ve really been struggling with Delilah and her recall.

I think for the most part it is my fault, I think I have sullied the word.

For whatever reason Sampson’s recall is come, Delilah’s is here, but they respond to many things.  Number one being their names which I think is good,  but a lot of times when we are walking I say this way or et eh.

I’ve had some success with getting her to return with the front command, which I think is perfectly acceptable for a recall.

I’ve really been working her lately with the here command.  Of course she is still on the 15 foot lead so she doesn’t have much opportunity to get too far away.  I try to call her back to me at least once every five minutes or so.  I also say it very loud with a slight hint of panic in my voice.  I figure if she ever gets too far away, my recall will be consistent. 😉

I’m really good at the 15 foot on leash recall.

Last night I found a sure-fire recall.

We were in the back part of the woods on one of the steeper trails.  For some reason the spiders back here love to create little tight ropes between trees.  Maybe they like to have parties at night, I’m not really too sure.

I am sure that I would like them to make their little tight ropes a wee bit higher.

I’m sick of catching them across my face.

Every once in a while one of those little suckers gets really industrious and builds a web across the trail.

I don’t mind that so much as long as they aren’t occupying it when I cross it. 😦

Yeah, I don’t like spiders.

At. All.

Last night there was a web, right across my path.

And it was occupied.

The spider was pretty small, but that doesn’t really matter to me.

I still don’t want it crawling on me.

Did I mention I don’t like spiders?

In my shock, I dropped the leash and prepared myself to do battle.  Oh and I also screamed a little Ahhhh Ahhhh.

Wouldn’t you know it, Delilah came running right back to me?

Then I used the end of her leash to smack that tight rope out of my way, while the spider grabbed his prey and ran.

You don’t have to run little spider, I don’t want your nasty old bug.

The things I endure, all for the sake of my dogs.

Thoughts From A Walk

Most days I use my walking time to plan blog posts or think about plot lines for my book.  The other day as we were walking I started wondering just exactly what was running through each of our minds as we walk.

I took a stab at it tonight.

We pull up to the park.

Sampson with his head out the window – I know I saw a deer just up there on the trail, where is it?

Delilah – Mom hurry up and open the door, I’ve got to pee.

Me – Sampson pull your big punkin head in the window, I want to walk.

As we get to the entrance to the field:

Sampson – Let me check the field, there’s usually someone in the field.

Delilah – Oooh, there’s a nice smelly spot in the field, I hope mom lets me roll in it.

Me – Dang it’s buggy out, what do they eat when I’m not here?

We turn right and head up the hill, Sampson is running ahead searching for deer, people or dogs.  Delilah and I trudge steadily along behind him.

Sampson stopping for a quick sniff – It smells like Brady’s been here once today.

Delilah – Why does mom keeping making me stop while she swats at me.

Me – Why haven’t I replaced that electric bug zapper, I could kill all these stinkin’ flies and stop them from biting Delilah.

We reach the opposite entrance to the park.

Sampson – Let’s run over to Brady’s and see if he’s out.

Delilah – I wish mom would drop this leash, I love running in this neighborhood.

Me – Ok, if we go around one more time, then head down the yellow and back up the orange, we should reach the car with about a half hour’s walk.

We take a left and head deeper into the woods, Sampson runs off looking for a place to pop a squat.

Sampson – Springing like a deer across the path, I pooped, I pooped.

Delilah – Hmmm someone pooped here, I think I’ll just pee on it.

Me kicking at some poop – Who the hell let’s their dog crap right in the middle of the path and doesn’t even bother to kick it off to the side.

We approach the field, this time from the opposite direction.

Sampson – Maybe someone’s in the field now, I better run ahead and see.

Delilah – I’ve got to poop, don’t worry mom I’ll cover it up.

Me – Holy smack that was close, she almost kicked dirt in my face!

We make our final turn and head down the orange trail towards the car.

Sampson nudging up beside me – Look mom I came back to you, give me a treat please.

Delilah turning around and pushing between me and Sampson – Hey that’s not fair, I want a treat too.

Me – Hang in there girl, just a few more minutes, you can do it.

We get back to the car and load up for home.

Sampson – I can’t wait to get home, the first thing I’m going to do is climb into the pool and cool myself down.

Delilah – Is it dinner time yet?

Me – My God I’m hot, I think my sweat has sweat.  I need a nice cold margarita.

What do you think about when you’re walking your dog?

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