I am a lazy dog owner. This revelation hit me as I sweated my way into the second humid hour of bushwacking up a steep slope. All 5 of my dogs are back in shape, hiking with me regularly, after Iske took some time off. She’s 14 years old, and I assumed she was staying behind when we did our morning walk because she just didn’t have the get-up-and-go anymore. Nope. I realized today that she was not coming with us anymore because she was getting lost. She couldn’t find me right as we set off because I was moving too fast, getting the clot of young maniacs off the front deck and away from each other before someone got their knickers in a twist and started a cat fight. Iske is blind in one eye and can’t see too good out the other. Her hearing is not what it used to be (thank god… the blessing of not noticing the distant thunderstorms that once tortured her so). I guess even her sense of smell is diminished. But she can still hike. I just need to help her get started. A little slower than the gang, but bringing up the rear with a swinging tail and a grin a mile wide, she is still very much with us.

2015-06-24 13.35.07

The laziness: Some people train their dogs. Some people – good dog owners – work their dogs. Some people practice agility or dock diving, or teach their dogs tricks, or buy equipment to keep their dogs stimulated and entertained. I’m poor and lazy. My dogs have to settle for the chipmunk, porcupine, deer method of mental and physical exercise. I have resigned as Director of Training and Fitness and the chipmunks have taken on the job. I get to walk on the mountain for a few hours each morning as the gang practices explosive acceleration, tracking skills, and leaping and whirling mid charge. Upper body and core workouts come with the digging and rock lifting (snouts only, no paws!). Balance and flexibility are part of the training as well, as Cinder demos the Hind Leg Walk with Radar Ears… “there has got to be a way to get that one down from the leafy place,” I can hear her thinking. They alternate short bursts of intense sprinting with longer more sustained runs… usually in the opposite direction of me and my chosen route. They get to practice obedience if I catch a whiff of sass in their attitude. I break out leashes and suddenly the walk becomes a wrestling match, but I always win.

This bumblebee is doing yoga.

This bumblebee is doing yoga.

Letting them be dogs for a few hours every day – finding a way for them to search, find, and chase – up scree and boulder strewn slopes, through thick brambles and damn near vertical pitches – it’s balls to the wall intensity. It means I don’t have to spend the time later doing something with them. I meet their needs in a way that meets mine. One paw washes the hand and vice versa.

That was what the trail looked like after a rain. Challenges come in all shapes and sizes.

That was what the trail looked like after a rain. Challenges come in all shapes and sizes.

A few updates while we’re both here:

The Mica Movie is screening on July 11, 2015, at the Pine Hill Community Center. I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around just how monumental this is – we made a film. We made a freaking film. And it is damn good. There will be an online screening the same day for all you online types who are not in the Catskills. We can watch it together.

I wrote a post about losing weight and the meno-5 and all that jazz. Here I am a few months later and I saw a sub-120 number of the scale this morning. I don’t really have a weight, I have a range, and my goal is to get the high of that range down to 120. I can do it. Even with all the beer and pasta and bread and cheese. Sleeping more, eating more, and exercising more is working. Hiking pants fit the way they used to. Life is good.

The “Long Short Story Contest” is almost over. I’ve been sitting in first place for a week or so now, and that last push to the finish line is always the hardest. Thank you to everyone who downloaded the story so far, and paws crossed we stay strong and hold out lead.

deptford pinks. swoon.

deptford pinks. swoon.

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