My husband was informed that a very close friend was coming into town, and would only be here for a few days. We found this out on Thursday, so we planned to do something with them while they were in town. Well, I’m still getting over strep throat, so no matter what I did, I would have to deal with the coughing from an irritated throat.
Anyway, we decided to go on a hike Sunday morning, and take Napoleon with us. He loved it! And it was a great opportunity to practice off leash work around distractions. A new place, new smells, possibly other dogs, and other people… and especially water – he loves water.
Now, just like when you are hiking by yourself, you take things like band-aids, extra water, snacks, etc. Well, I did the same for my dog. I brought treats, extra water, and a doggie first aid kit. This included tweezers, hydrogen peroxide, animal bandages, Neosporin, and frankincense essential oils (never leave home without it!). I also brought a washcloth. This has many uses – cleaning something off, wiping him down after the walk, or getting it wet and using it to cool him off in case of overheating.
I was taking preventative measures for heatstroke as it was, but never hurts to be prepared. I put a drop of peppermint in his water, and on the bottom of his feet, and on the tips of his ears. We took frequent breaks for water and to rest, and I monitored his breathing the whole time. No heatstroke, he did great!
Anyway, back to the hike. We started in the parking lot, and I let him off leash. He, as we have worked on, stayed by my side as we started walking. Perfect! So, I gave him the command to go up ahead of us a bit. He was never beyond 20 feet ahead, and kept checking on the rest of us. Awesome! When I noticed lots of twisty turns, or places where I couldn’t see ahead, I called him back and put him behind me (‘Get behind me’ command). He did, and complied perfectly. I also used this command when I saw people or other off-leash dogs. I put him behind me, put him in a sit, and blocked off the new dog so he couldn’t get to Napoleon.
All those encounters went well until we met a dog who didn’t do well with other dogs, and he was being awfully pushy to get to Napoleon. I pushed him back and then gave Napoleon the ‘Get Back’ command to go to the back of our ‘human pack’. We had 5 people total, so he went to the back and waited. Yay! Perfect obedience! We handled the other dog, and the other person apologized and said they didn’t realize there were people/dogs up ahead or she would have leashed him. Yes, she should have been more aware, but it was all good. No fights, I handled it with my mad skills, and we were fine. Continuing on…
We got to a part where you had to climb up some rocks and there was no room for Napoleon and I to walk side by side, so I sent him up ahead to go first through the rocks. I was a little worried he might slip, so I wanted to be behind him to catch him if I needed to. He did slip a bit, but he was able to catch himself and all was just dandy.
We made it to the waterfall, and I released him so he could play. He went after sticks, played in the water, though he was unsure about the waterfall. It was loud and the current was pretty strong right around it. I threw some sticks for him, and he wanted to get THE BIG STICK, of course! He was getting frustrated with not being able to get the big one, so I called him off and we went to find something that he could get… like a smaller stick!
We stopped for rest, snacks, water, and watched my husband climb up a big, steep dirt hill to sit on a big rock at the top. Napoleon realized he couldn’t see my husband, and spotted him on the top of the rock. He looked at me and I released him to go uphill and meet him. He struggled up the hill, as it was really steep. He made it and sat triumphantly at the top! Then came bounding right down again. I was nervous, as he looked like he was either going to face plant, or run right into a big rock. Nah, he just jumped over it, like super dog! Way to go, buddy!
On our way back, we were all tired. Napoleon wasn’t running up ahead anymore, and needed to stop more for water breaks. It seemed easier on the way back, but since we were tired, it was just as challenging. I had to really watch Napoleon, as he slipped when the path was narrow. So, he stayed next to me on my left as much as possible, and we slowed down a bit.
Finally we made it back and he earned a few more treats (to keep the energy up), and a little more water. He crashed on the way home and slept the whole way.
Today was the day I noticed how old my boy is… he laid down on his bed when we got home and was out cold. When he tried to get up, he was really struggling. I know I was sore, I can imagine he was too. He had trouble getting up, sitting down, and going up/down our stairs. So, today, he gets plenty of kennel time and rest time, and I have decided to put him on Pentosan for his joints. The doctor is coming on Saturday.
It was overall a really fun day, but heartbreaking to see my boy isn’t as young as he used to be. I’m hoping to see positive results from the Pentosan.