I have three wonderful hiking companions that are truly my best friends on the trail. I can get lost in my thoughts and I rarely have to say much. They don’t seem to mind if I change directions and go a little longer or if I decide to take the long way back. These three dogs have shared many mornings with me out in nature.
This summer while walking with them I started to realize just how individual these dogs are are and discovering what each of them are bringing to my life and perhaps why.
Pepper, my black lab that I have owned the longest is soooooo ME, she flits from one activity to the next always looking for where the trail may lead, what is around the corner and has very little patience when we stop to chat. She is there to walk and that means very little chatting, we have trails to get to–“c’mon c’mon” I hear her saying with urgency. She is a faithful dedicated dog that always returns to check on me after she gets a little too far ahead. She has truly been a wonderful companion and compliments my own desire to keep going, keep discovering.
Now Brooklyn, the big boy, the biggest loser. A little background info about this guy. We adopted him last December. I was at the animal shelter with my mom looking for a kitten and I walked through the dog area. I saw this beautiful, nearly white, adult yellow lab sitting in a kennel. Now, he was a BIG dog. We didn’t see any cats that we liked so off we went. That night in my sleep, I dreamt of the big white dog in the shelter and woke with a feeling that I MUST have that dog. That morning I felt such an urgency to get to him that I told Evan to get in the car, we had a dog to go get. I called Gary at work and basically said, “uhhh Honey, I had a dream about a dog and I need to rescue him”. So Evan and I arrived, got his ID number, took it to the lady, met the dog, filled out the paperwork and was in the car on the way home in about 25 minutes. Once getting him home and meeting the other dogs did I begin to realize just how incredibly obese this guy was! He could barely waddle his way around the house! The other dogs accepted him just fine and he quickly became a member of the family. Aside from wanting to eat everything in site, including the poor innocent cat that has since been in hiding only to come out at night, he seemed to be a very good dog. Once I learned that Brooklyn came with a good knowledge of basic commands he was ready to hit the walking trails. After our first long walk my heart broke to discover that this poor guy had bleeding paws–I assume from never being walked. After watching him inhale (eat) his food and seeing the condition of his feet, I soon realized just how lucky we both were to find each other. He was getting a second chance to be the dog he was born to be and I got to share my life with this wonderful old soul. Well, it is now July and I am proud to announce that Brooklyn is THE biggest loser weighing in at a very svelte 87 pounds! When I adopted him in December he was tipping the scales at 130. Each time I set his bowl down, I get a look of “is that it?” before he opens up the suction and in goes the kibble. He has learned that the girls eat a bit slower and if they aren’t careful he will try to get his face into their bowls. He eats anything that is found on the street; pizza that had been run over, half eaten muffins, ice cream cups and even things that are too gross to say. So, this summer as I have been taking him out each day to walk/hike/run and watching him get slimmer and slimmer, his personality has imerged clearer to me. He has gone from being the pathetic fat guy to one that truly tries his best, wants to please and yet in all honesty he would probably prefer to have just a little extra time in bed, not such a quick pace and maybe a little more food. He slowly makes his way to the truck in the morning, slowly jumps in–or on real slow days needs a lift from me, he lies down while we drive, he slowly gets out of the truck and gives a big *sigh* as we get to the trail head. I can hear him saying, “gosh, we just did this yesterday and I haven’t even had breakfast yet, do we really need to do this everyday?” But he trudges on, always staying at my side while the other dogs run up ahead. I believe that we have given each other wonderful gifts. I have given him a life of health, running in nature, swimming in water, walks in the evening and he has given me the reminder of sometimes taking life at a slower pace, going a little slower to not see what is around the corner but enjoy what is right in front of me. His soul pours out of his eyes and I believe that there was no coincidence in us finding each other.
Then there is Abby, the neurotic Boston Terrier–the pretty princess, the baby, the one that we can’t take out on walks for fear of her going from walking on four legs to instantly up on the hinds, forearms out walking toward anyone or anything bringing laughter and remarks from complete strangers. She rarely gets to go anywhere because it is like holding a kite string in the middle of a tornado–completely exhausting and not worth the trouble. I decided to give the girl a chance and take her with me, off leash, and see how she did. She totally amazed me on the trail—she listens, she walks, she comes! Is this even the same dog that chases people on bicycles? How can a leash attached cause such a neurotic reaction in her? Where did she learn to be such a good hiking dog? A DOG! not a pretty princess that sleeps on the sofa or under the covers, but a real dog! Since I have been taking her out I have noticed that she brings a wonderful lightness to the walks. The eagerness when we encounter another group–not neccessarily eagerness to see the other dogs, but she is there to say hi to the people. She brings a smile to others by the way she wiggles sideways to greet someone with her toothless grin. It is then that I find myself smiling. As we make our way along the trails, I love to see her little square head dodging through the brush and I am grateful that I gave her a chance to be a dog too.