Today was an incredibly gorgeous day and so we-Tenie, Carmen, Glacier, Roscoe and I-took full advantage of the rare appearance of the Scottish sun. The air was still brisk, since it is still in fact February, but it was beautiful nonetheless.
Our day started with Glacier, Roscoe and I walking over to Tenie and Carmen's flat to meet them. Technically, the Guide Dog Association forbids us working our dogs and walking another at the same time, but I did it anyway. First of all, I know my dogs and know that I will be safe. I am also extremely comfortable with the route from my flat to the girls'. Not to mention, sometimes life happens and I am going to have to walk a dog while I work Glacier. As long as it doesn't impact his working, which it does not when it is Roscoe I am walking, then I will continue to do it when necessary.
Carmen greeted us at the door with a cup of coffee for me. The boys and I had a great walk over, despite Roscoe thinking he should go visit another dog about a block from the girls' flat. I felt his body tense up and I knew we were approaching the other creature and so had him sit and stay until he had calmed himself down. I sipped my coffee and chatted with the girls and once Carmen and I were done our tasty beverages, we all headed out; Tenie walking Roscoe, Carmen guiding me and Glacier heeling on leash like a "real dog."
The walk we took was a good 20 to 25 minute walk; through a park, along a path in a cemetery, down a long road and eventually out on to a promenade that ran beside the North Sea. I have always loved the water and loved oceans/seas even more. There's something fascinating about a body of water that is so large. It's soothing and frightening all at the same time. Today the waves were long, rolling soothing waves because there wasn't a wind to hurl them at the wall. I've been living here for five months now and it was the first time we've been to the sea since my arrival. What's up with that?
It was gorgeous. The sun was warming our faces and we could hear the water splashing on the concrete wall. The dogs were in Heaven as well; sniffing and investigating for as far as their leashes would let them; or at least, as far as we'd let them.
Even when out for off duty walks, Glacier and Roscoe are expected to behave in a specific manner to ensure that bad habits are not being learned and enforced. If the boys are allowed to sniff too much when out walking like "real dogs," then they may transfer that behavior to when they are working. So, they did sniff here and there, but it was held in check to a certain degree.
We wandered along the promenade for a while, passing shops and restaurants, other pedestrians and dogs and buildings of every description. Glacier and Roscoe stopped from time to time to meet other dogs; a Labrador here, a Collie there and everything in between. The people and dogs were out in full force, probably trying to take advantage of the Vitamin D supply just like we were.
We stopped at a little cafe and took seats outside. Glacier had his working harness with him, but Roscoe's had remained at home as Mr. K wasn't able to come with us due to homework deadline constraints. This lack of Mr. K meant Roscoe was a dog for the day, but also meant he lost his public access privileges as well. We ate delicious lunches, listening to the waves crashing on the shore. People walked/cycled/ran by and dogs stopped to say hello to Roscoe and Glacier, who were tied to my chair. At one point, Glacier's leash came free and I sprang from the chair to get him back. A dog had come to greet the boys and in his enthusiasm, Glacier had managed to yank his leash out from under my bum. Due to my frantic leap for Glacier's leash, Roscoe was able to gain some ground as well because the chair I had been sitting in, and he had been tied to, no longer had any weight in it to keep him from sprinting off. Both dogs were excellent though and stayed when I told them to and I was able to collect leashes without further incident. The Greyhound's owner was quite apologetic, but I told him I wasn't worried about it. Glacier's leash was then tied to the chair as that was a more secure anchor for it. I fell completely in love with the little area.
When we were finished eating, we decided to head back. All of our hands were freezing from eating outside, but once we started moving again and were back out in the sun, we quickly warmed up. For our trek home, we opted to take a beach walk back. The boys had been so good that we figured they deserved a good off leash run. There are several little paths leading from the paved promenade down to the sand and we took one of these and released the boys after they sat in a "stay" and waited patiently for their "okay." They both took off like shots, kicking up little sand storms behind them.
We met several different dogs as we made our way down the beach; all of whom were friendly and wanted Glacier and Roscoe to play with them. We met three small dogs of an unidentifiable breed who ran in yapping circles around the boys' ankles. One of these little noise makers ran to me and firmly planted its butt on my feet. Glacier noticing this, promptly came over to me, but the little yapper barked in his face. Glacier backed off and so we decided it was time to move on.
Further along we came upon a Labrador playing fetch. He was happily chasing a stick out into the waves until Glacier and Roscoe came along. Then, he wanted nothing to do with stick or owner and spent a good few minutes doing the doggie handshake. We finally managed to extract our two from the sniff fest and keep moving.
The last two dogs we came to were another interesting crew. The biggest of the two, and the biggest of all four of the dogs, was a big black shaggy thing that must have been Irish Wolfhound mixed with Labrador. His name was Oscar and he was a nice guy, but he, Glacier and Roscoe decided that a game of "mounting" dominance was fun. We could hardly get the three separated. Every time we tried to leave, Oscar came hauling butt after us and the scenario played out again. Finally, his mama grabbed a hold of his collar and waited for us to get a ways down the sand before releasing him again. He didn't follow us that time. What can I say? Glacier and Roscoe are just that attractive. ;)
We walked further, Glacier and Roscoe running circles around us and then ploughing into the sea. Glacier got to play his most favourite game called,"The white dog gets the dirtiest." He would race into the sea and come sprinting back out only to stop, drop and roll. In the three and a half years that I have had Glacier this was his first experience at the ocean-or the sea-and he absolutely loved it. As we neared the end of the beach, we clipped the leashes back on and retraced our steps back to the girls' flat. That is where I put Glacier's harness back on and Roscoe became my charge again. Glacier's guiding home was excellent and confident and Roscoe trotted along beside me, behaving nicely because he was worn out from his excursion.
Wen we got home, it was shower time for two very filthy boys. Roscoe was first as he had pretty much dried and the sand had mostly flaked off of him on our walk home. Glacier on the other hand was a mess and I spent a good 15 minutes spraying him off, which he was not happy about. Both boys got a bit extra in their supper because all of the running and walking they did today. They are now crashed out, paws twitching and ears flickering.
Do you think they are dreaming of the beach again?