Sunday, July 30, 2017

Hiking Girl

Me in my bug shirt, Charlie after a mud bath.

I still think it's too soon to say for sure, but it feels like my hiking buddy is back! Charlie and I went for hikes on Saturday and Sunday this weekend and she did great at both trails.

Our last few hiking excursions included my new boyfriend, so I couldn't be sure if Charlie's ability to handle the hiking trails with newfound bravery was due to feeling better or just having someone new (and alpha-worthy) along. I was worried that her bravery was due in part to having a strong (male) leader in her new pack.

This weekend we were going to be on our own so I figured it would be a good chance to test whether she truly was feeling braver because of all I've done in the past couple of months to help her get past some of her fearful behavior and noise reactivity.

And even though this was a successful weekend and she had absolutely no issues, I realize that any loud noise or fear-inducing event could set her back again.

But in the meantime, I'm enjoying having my hiking buddy back and hoping that we can continue to build her confidence.

Saturday morning we hiked a familiar trail and one that Charlie has always loved. Because we were there so early, it was very quiet and we had the trails to ourselves. Bonus: the wildlife was out in full force... birds were singing, fish were jumping in the lake and deer of all sizes were present in the woods.

After I put Charlie's hiking vest on and let her out of the car, she took off like a bolt of lightning after a deer that was grazing along the edge of the woods nearby. I laughed as she sauntered back a few minutes later realizing she was never going to catch up with it.

Charlie sitting on a submerged log. Silly girl.

We explored along the newly exposed shoreline and played some fetch before finishing our hike at a quick pace along the groomed trail. Charlie seemed content to stay with my pace and didn't pull to go faster. I guess it's been a while since she's had very much exercise and she's a bit out of shape.

Sunday was a day to explore one of our new trails along the Plover River. Last time we were here we had just a short introductory hike to get familiar with the new trail and make sure Charlie would be comfortable. Today was going to be a longer hike to go deeper into the woods and explore.

Charlie exploring on top of a root & moss berm in the river.

We took the left fork in the trail this time and wound our way along the river's edge, away from the beaten path. I wore my bug shirt today since the deer flies were horrible last time I was here. Having that shirt on made me braver to bush-wack through pretty dense foliage... unafraid of the bugs and spiders that I was surely walking through.


Charlie had a great time weaving through fallen trees and jumping over logs as she explored this new terrain. She took breaks in the river to swim and play with sticks and didn't seem afraid to go ahead of me to explore on her own. I was so proud of her for being brave that I wasn't even upset when she wouldn't listen when I called for her to come back to me.

In the video below, Charlie swam over to the other side of the river and didn't want to come back when I called. Typically when she won't come to me, I use the phrase "Okay, I'll see you later." This always gets her attention because she knows it means I'll leave her there and go without her, so she usually comes when I say this.... which was exactly what she did.


I continued to go off-trail on our return hike back to the parking area. I got a little lost and was pretty deep in some difficult terrain at one point, but finally made it back to the trail. I was getting pretty exhausted in the hot, humid heat and from navigating some fairly difficult obstacles by the time we got back to the car and I know Charlie was pretty tired out too. After two days in a row of hiking, she'll be ready to take a few days off and rest.

But she'll be having good doggy-dreams of all the adventures she had!

Charlie photo-bomb.