Part of my desire to get a puppy was not only for its undeniable cuteness, sleepless nights, sharp teeth and sweet, sweet puppy breath, but so that when she grew up big enough, I'd have someone to take for a walk. Now, I know what you're thinking: you're thinking "Jess, you walk a dog everywhere you go." Okay, so I sort of do, but I'm not really walking Glacier as we're walking together; big difference. In a way, it's almost better to have someone to walk with, but it has its downfalls.
When Glacier and I are out walking, AKA getting from point A to point B, we are on a mission. We have a specific destination. Glacier is also not allowed to greet other people and/or dogs, nor is he allowed to sniff, pee, chase leaves Etc. Now, I'm all for good leash manners, especially when you have a steam roller of a puller like Glacier, but there is a sort of segregation between you and other dog owners because, in essence, your relationship with your working dog is not the same as theirs with their pets. This distinction and distance is good: it is what allows Glacier to do his job. It is for these reasons, that I've wanted someone to take for walks and Hermione is now that someone.
This morning we went on a very long and enjoyable walk. Glacier's work was quite impressive, especially since I asked him to guide us through a local park, full of frolicking dogs, cyclists and people just walking in general. It was a pretty busy place for 7 AM on a misty, chilly Tuesday morning. The walk probably took us about 45 minutes or so and that's with stopping twice for Hermione to meet another dog. It also included me asking someone for directions to ensure I was on the right path. Once inside the park, I lose all of the signals I use to keep Glacier moving in the right direction; traffic flow, sidewalk, curbs Etc. We were walking down a paved path, but it has branches and sometimes very subtle turns that I would not notice. Accidentally wandering down one of these branches would put me at the complete opposite end of the park. Turns out we were moving in the right direction, which made me very happy.
Hermione did a great job with her forward momentum. Walking forward has been something we've been working on because she initially wanted to prance every direction, sniff every sidewalk slab and eat everything in sight. For the most part, she kept her paws pointed ahead and her nose up. I was impressed with this latter feat as she is only three months old and technically a part of the "gun dog" category; AKA hunting breeds. She did very well meeting two other dogs, which I was also very happy to see. It is very important to me that Hermione is socialised with as many dogs as possible, not only because she is going to be a therapy dog, but because I think it is a very important part of being a responsible dog owner and having a well rounded adult dog. Prevention is the best method of training and teaching your puppy/dog to play nice with others is the first step in ensuring your animal doesn't have dog sensitivity issues.
This morning's walk was the first in many to come. I've made it my goal to walk Hermione at least twice a day in order to ensure she gets the stimulation, exercise and socialisation she needs. It's been something I've been working up to, going on shorter walks every second day or so, but I think she is big enough now to be able to handle the physical activity. Besides, her energy level in the flat as of late has been through the roof. This tells me she is ready for more frequent and longer walks. I really enjoyed myself and I think both Glacier and Hermione did too. They both passed out when we got home and Hermione devoured her lunch. I think there are a lot of benefits for everyone involved, including me, to be out and about. I even feel better just from that one walk. I've also decided that we need to try to go early in the morning.
First of all, I'm more of a morning person and more apt to do the longer walk early in the morning. Second of all, there are a lot less children out that early in the morning. Not that I don't like kids, or that I don't want Hermione exposed to them, it's just easier because there aren't any little ones trying to interact with Glacier; or parents with kids in "prams" everywhere, but my anger towards prams is for another post. ;) I've also noticed that the people out walking their dogs that early in the morning are actually quite friendly and happy. I don't know what it is, but people out with their dogs early in the morning are in a much better mood than a lot of people later in the day. Of course I am generalising, and this observation does not apply to everyone. Lastly, it's because you never know when it's going to rain here and it seems that the likelihood of precipitation is lower that early in the morning. It had begun to drizzle just as we walked the last two blocks to our home and it's been pouring ever since. I'm determined to do our shorter walk tonight, but I may need to invest in rain gear for both dogs and a pair of good Wellies for me.
There's something satisfying about starting a new goal; especially one that is just so enjoyable for me. Have you set yourselves new goals lately? Do you have any kind of routine with your dogs that is enjoyable for you?