Friday, July 11, 2014

Roscoe Learns to Swim

Today was another hiking day. My aunt asked me if I wanted to head out early since it looked as though it may rain. I got the dogs ready and in the process, Mr. K decided to join us. We drove back out to the area where we had walked for 2 hours, but took a different trail.
This one was one that I was actually familiar with as it was the trail that I had done my time trials on during the winter months. Skiing it and walking it are two different things. Not to mention, I think we took a different route since we drove down the large incline that I normally would have skied down.
Our hike started with us walking down a path and then on to a boardwalk/bridge thingy that is in need of repair. Some of the boards were loose and others were missing. There was a small waterfall rushing down on the right side. Hermione was convinced it wasn't safe and so we had to carry her across. Otis was okay with going it on is own, but he remained on leash and we had to lift him over certain spots where the boards were missing. Nala and Roscoe had no problems ploughing ahead.
After our encounter with the questionable bridge thingy we came face to face with a hillside. There was nowhere to go but up. So we went up. This sort of climbing was similar to that of the hike we had done on Monday. We found footholds for our feet in the big rocks and from time to time grabbed on to a tree to help pull ourselves up. There were also a few places where I had to dropped into a crouch position in order to lower my centre of gravity and kind of scuttle up the hill.
Again, Hermione did not think this was safe and squawked at me all the way to the top. She took it upon herself to rush ahead and yell at me from above. She would sometimes lay a paw on my shoulder if I was crouched down or poke my leg with her nose to make sure I realised that she was highly unimpressed. Otis just plunged ahead like the little mac truck/mountain goat that he is.
After that first climb though, the terrain levelled off and although there were climbs and descents, we could stay standing upright the whole time. Rock clutching and tree grabbing were no longer necessary. Hermione stopped yelling.
There were a few opportunities to practice recall. Two cyclists past us and I whistled the dogs back. Everyone came and stayed out of the cyclists' way. The man even commented on how beautiful the dogs were and how well behaved.
That was nice to hear.
A little while later another cyclist appeared and the whistle was used again. The three dogs off leash came bounding back and stayed out of his way as well.
Eventually, our twisting and turning brought us back out of the forest and to the edge of a man made lake. We were all fighting off mosquitoes and horse flies, but the dogs were hot and we thought we'd stop to let them cool off.
Nala, Roscoe and Hermione went splashing about, soaking themselves up to their bellies. Otis was brought over to the water's edge on leash, but when it appeared that all he wanted to do was drink the entire lake, he was removed.
My aunt asked me if Roscoe knew how to fetch and I said no. She then asked if he could swim and I said, "sort of."
Mr. K and I had tried to teach him a few summers ago, but he really didn't get it. There was much paw whacking the water and not enough of paddling under the water. We found a stick and she chucked it way out into the lake. Roscoe and Nala leapt into the water, but then put the brakes on when the bottom started to drop out. The stick floated away.
Roscoe whined in protest.
Another smaller stick was found and thrown within bottom touching distance. They chased it, but then it began floating away as well. Roscoe whined desperately. I nearly died laughing.
Was it a fluke or was he genuinely upset that he couldn't get the stick?
More sticks found and thrown with the same results.
Stick thrown.
Roscoe chases.
Stick gets away.
Roscoe yells about it.
Eventually, we managed to coax him to go get the stick and he became braver. It got to the point where he'd actually chase the stick and swim out to it. He'd usually drop it on the edge of the lake instead of bringing it to you, but baby steps right?
The fact that he figured out to put his paws under the water was a miracle.
He tired of the game much more quickly than dogs who learn how to fetch as puppies. He'd let us know by wandering away once he had dropped the stick on the ground. However, I'm just so excited that he learned how to swim. That means, that if it ever gets warm enough for us to go to the beach this summer, Roscoe can come swimming with me.
After our swimming lesson, we leashed them back up and headed for the SUV. Wet was fine, but we didn't want wet and sandy and there was plenty of sand for them to roll in on the way to the vehicle. We had to cross another bridge thingy that Hermione was none too happy about. She even waded out as far as she could instead of taking the bridge. Mr. K managed to convince her to cross the bridge with us and we were all back at the SUV in one piece.
"Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?" I asked as Roscoe leapt into the back of the SUV. At 7 years old, Roscoe is the "old man" of our group. It just goes to show you that there's something to be said for a dog's natural instincts and abilities.
It was a great hike, aside from the bugs. And even though all of the dogs, except Otis, are still a bit damp, they are happy and damp...and sleepy!
and, we all know that a tired dog, whether it is damp or not, is a good dog.

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