My favorite time of year just got better with the addition of our new toy.
I love the scooter and so do the dogs. For us town folk with no access to easy trails right out the back gate a scooter gives the opportunity to train and exercise dogs easily.
Did I say easily?
Fun yes, but getting going is never easy.... and today we had an added adventure that I thought would be worth sharing on this wonderful crisp fall morning.
The dogs had already been out of their runs for about 30 minutes and were settling down to chew bones, dig or check out and mark the perimeter of their property.
Mayhem ensued when I stepped outside with harnesses in hand. They know what a harness means and excitement ripples between dogs and human. With the puppies who have never run in harness they get caught up in the fever although I'm sure they have no clue as to why.
With only 5 dogs you would think it easy to harness up 1 dog at a time.
Let us begin with Penny. She is the calmest of the bunch and will stand nicely for me while I slip the harness over her head. Easy? Yes if she was the only dog there.
Rocky slides up to her side whining for his turn to be right now! Hubba does a funny in and out bump of my hands as if to say "don't forget about me!"
If it was only those two it would still be pretty easy.... but don't forget we have 2 puppies who think this is all a game and end up climbing over top of the dogs to get a closer look.
"Look Elly a rope or something... wanna play?"
I spend most of my energy pushing puppies off.
I know, you don't have to tell me... "but wouldn't it be easier if you just put the puppies into their kennel??"
Ah, yes it would indeed, however you have to remember we run early mornings to avoid traffic with cars or other people walking their dogs and the last thing we need is the puppies howling and barking thinking they are missing out on something big, especially on a Sunday.
So instead we practice patience and eye hand coordination as we scoop puppies up and push them away while harnessing the bigger dogs.
Now that the dogs are harnessed it is time to get them out of the yard and hooked to the scooter. Again not an easy task as now we have puppies hanging off of the bigger dogs by their harnesses.
For sure this is a two person job.... and would be so much easier if we either had another person there or an extra arm or two.
At this point it is not just the two puppies we are trying to keep inside but also a 'lone' older dog as I only scooter 2 at a time for the moment.
I'm not even sure how to explain the procedure for getting the gate open allowing 2 hyper harnessed dogs out without letting go of their line and keeping 3 others inside.... let's just say it is an adrenaline rushed brouhaha.
Dogs are finally hooked to the scooter and we can take off.
We run down a total of 4 to 5 blocks before we are out on country roads, and to date it has been rather un-eventful with a couple of squirrels, one cat and a dog in a yard making our exit a tad interesting. I do know we need to practice our command, "on by" way more than we do.
The most frustrating part of being in town is the cars that slow down to 'watch' us run along.
I wish people could understand how simple it would be for my furry baby to turn into their vehicle, not that they would as all my dogs are a bit nervous around cars, but accidents happen quickly and the faster their car gets out of our way the more relaxed I am.
We then head up a country road for another 2km's or so. In another few weeks we will be ready to increase our distance, but I am hoping that we will be on 'real' trails by then and no more roads.
The biggest problem of running this particular country road is the fact that it is a straight line with no turns.
It is the hardest part of our entire run when it is time to head back home. The dogs do not understand why I need to turn them completely around and it takes lots... LOTS of encouragement to get them to head in the opposite direction, and usually with a few tangles while doing so.
Today however the dogs and I stopped for a quick break at the 1/2 way mark at an opening to a field.
This particular field had been harvested not too long ago and gave the appearance of a trail. The dogs immediately began going down this direction.
Normally I do not allow the dogs to choose where we go, instead listening to my commands, however today this trail looked enticing to me too.
A new trail that was not paved was exciting and it would take us to a road that would lead us home eventually.
I was thrilled and thought that my excitement had passed on to the dogs... but I was not to be the source of their frenzied run.
No, it was the large item that lay to the side of the 'trail', the item that I thought was a piece of garbage. A large paper bag is what my brain registered.
The dogs knew long before we arrived what they were heading for.
We came upon a rather large piece of (thankfully frozen) deer hide that had been worked over by the coyotes the night before.
Rocky and Penny dove onto it each grabbing a section in their mouths.. I dropped the scooter and ran to the large item that was, once again thankfully, frozen into a large flat surface. Ripping it from their mouths I flung it like a Frisbee away from the over excited dogs.
Luck was with me in that they were now too distracted with the scattered bones to worry about the disc like edible object flying away into the field like a toy that we play with in the yard.
Grabbing their harnesses I had to drag them with the scooter helplessly bouncing along behind them away from the carnage. I would have taken them further up this 'trail' if it were not for the rest of the deer laying about 50 feet ahead, so instead we went back to the road.
The rest of our run was uneventful, and they sprinted home in a hurry eager to tell Hubba what lay ahead for him when it was his turn next.
I'm sure they will make a bee line for this very spot next time we head for our run next weekend.
Adventure... always.... with the sun coming up behind me bringing the snow capped mountains to life, the crisp fall air stinging my lungs, I wouldn't have it any other way.