Sleddie roll call: Smokey, Patsy, Pluto, Apex, Mary Kate, Roo, Jon Snow, Baloo, Jasper, Portia, Louie, Argus, Blue, Oman
Though it's been over a month since this rainy walk in the woods, I remember it all very clearly.
The dogs, the people, the flooded trails, the bike racers.
Me abandoning my camera for my camera phone because my body was sore from holding my beast of a camera for over 40 dog photo sessions in the previous 2 weeks.
And then putting all that aside to try to just 'be'.
Though I still took some video while talking to dogs and offering treats.
And then I pushed my luck by talking to Apex just one too many times while offering him a treat, which proved to be a bit much for our delicate walkie relationship, so Deb was going to have to head into the bushes to coax him back from 'the dark side' as she calls it. Deb was already managing 4 dogs -- 3 of her own (Apex, Roo + Mary Kate) and one recent intake who was moving foster homes, Jon Snow. Since Roo and MK would want to be with her, once she headed into the woods, I took the leash of the odd man out, Jon Snow.
I didn't even think about it, I just did it.
Something had compelled me to take that leash.
And then as we started I walking I wondered what I had done. Jon was a big boy and a bit of a puller. Some sleddies pull, some don't... Jon did. My greatest fear walking a sleddie is it getting loose and being too scared to come back -- and with my painful body I was suddenly worried. But the muscle memory of years of walking both shelter dogs and sleddies clicked to the 'on' position and off we went. We walked with Ally and Argus, though puddles, around puddles, up hills where I appreciated the bit of pulling help, and down hills where I thought "don't let go, don't trip, don't fall"! Maybe Jon knew just how much tension I could handle because we made it the rest of the forest walk without any problems and best of all... no lost dogs!! (including Apex who was fine once I was out of sight... sigh...)
As we milled about in the parking area with the others Jon did some circles - a common behaviour with sleddies due to their time spent on chains - but then the circles went around me and my legs ended up cocooned in his leashes. I managed to unravel myself without falling over and laughed a bit to myself. I'm not usually the one in these situations, I usually capture it happening to others. But here I was and I was loving every minute of it.
As some began to leave it was a split moment when I happened to catch Jillian's dog Portia stumble getting into her car and Jon Snow noticed it too because he then put his front legs up on me in a 'hug'. Of course it seemed like the cutest thing and others saw him do it too, but then I realized why he was doing it, he had gotten scared. Some sleddies want to bolt, some look to the closest warm body. Thankfully Jon came to me rather than bolt away.
I gave him reassurances and a few kisses on his head and after about 20-ish seconds he put his feet back down on the ground and shook it off.
Recovery... yay Jon Snow!
I'm thankful I saw that happen because it not only informed us of Jon Snow's fears, but it hit home the concept that something seemingly innocuous as a dog doing a small stumble while getting into a car... across a road -- an action that barely makes any noise and doesn't seem like much -- can be scary to a dog that's learning about our big, wide, weird, human world.
Sleddie School is always in session with the dogs as teachers, we just have to be open to listening.
Here are a few photos as well as a video so you can enjoy a bit of the walk too!
p.s. Jon Snow has since been adopted and his new family just adores him!!
Our second meet up of the year was a great success!
17 sleddies along with one honourary sleddie came out to the woods to run, romp, trundle and get their paws muddy.
We started with a group photo, and then met up in the woods with some more friends and another photo op. Some were off leash and weren't too happy with having to stop the adventure so soon after starting, so it's a bit of a group-photo mash up with wayward dogs wandering in all directions!
In addition to old friends reconnecting, some new friends joined in! Twister, who came into care in March 2022 got adopted last spring so came for his first group walk, and Spinner, who it turns out is Jasper's brother! They have the same cute snouts and soft, floofy-ish coats.
With so many attendees it made for a long line of humans and dogs on the forest trails so I tried my best to capture everyone along the way. Some gave me lots of chances as they ran from the front of the line and back, likely putting on 10x more mileage than the rest of us and others made me work a bit to find them along the way.
All in all, it was a great little adventure and I'm so glad were 2 for 2 with groups walks this year!
As usual, I include a whole host of photos so you can join along virtually and share in those split-second moments of head tilts, facial expression nuances and body language changes... all without getting your feet muddy.
Thanks to all who came out... I'm looking forward to March's meet up already!
Sleddie Roll Call: Apex, Mary Kate + Roo, Argus Arwen, Clyde, Jack, Jasper + Portia, Samwell, Sparky + Buddy, Smokey, Spinner, Stevie + Peach and Twister... and honourary sleddie Tica, who was a great little sister to ChiChi.
Smokey of the smoke blue eyes.
Prior to today we'd met only once back in March 2019 when she came to my studio to participate in Part One and she was as sweet as she was nervous.
Today's meet up was a chance for Smokey and her human to reconnect with the local sleddie community so off into the woods we went - Smokey, Apex, Mary Kate, Roo and the humans.
Down, down, down the trail to the ocean inlet where the sea dogs (seals) splashed around in the water, then back up, up, up the hill with Smokey 'woo woo-ing' us if we stopped for too long. Apex trundled close to Deb and MK and Roo blew off some steam with some zoomies.
At almost 14 Smokey still showed moments of puppy-ness with her head tilts, digging in the dirt and her woo-woos. Under all that floof is a wee girl who's in her element in the woods and the quiet of nature. She's so much more loose and relaxed than the last time I saw her and that makes me so happy. She even took treats from me off the start - though she promptly dropped them until I was a few feet away. But that only lasted for the first few and we were soon friends. Of course, Mary Kate and Roo were on treat alert as usual, with Apex doing his thing by keeping his distance from me... or at least my camera.
I love that Kevin reached out and that Smokey will now have an expanded circle of people who are there to help her and Kevin along when they need it.
Thanks for the walk gang!