OUTSIDE THE COMFORT ZONE-hiking with Mirana, Halite, Mr. Witherspoon, BT, Hide Away, Quinn and Swarovski
Spending time outside the usual has
been a frequent topic at my house lately.
My youngest son and I have both
been on a mission to try new things.
With the other family members living
elsewhere for the most part, I think we are both feeling
a sense of transformation!
Living within the confines of ‘contented’
can become, well, unhealthy! Getting up
each day, consuming the usual breakfast without variety,
going to work or school, and returning home.
Dinner. Dishes. Straighten up the clutter and
vacuum up the dog hair and dried mud.
Go to bed. Repeat.
Now, honestly, we have a lot more in our lives than this, BUT…
It just feels like we should hop off of our routines
and schedules more frequently.
We each have made some strides. I, for one,
re-ignited my passion for organic gardening, especially herbs.
I am also reorganizing boxes and boxes of photos
and other family keepsakes.
How does an indiviual of routine place one foot out
of that personal comfort zone?
Well, if someone were to ask me,
“What would you suggest *I* try, because I need a change, too?”
Here are just a few ideas…
Volunteer at the raptor hospital or nature center/sanctuary
such as at The World Bird Sanctuary
Long Meadow Rescue Ranch
Take your best friend ziplining once a month
Or maybe read a book to a shelter dog.
In the case of this great group of FOUR DIRECTIONS volunteers
Do I ever know THIS fella.
“Dubs”, as I have always called him,
is probably one of the most
MISUNDERSTOOD dogs I have ever known.
Not that he doesn’t deserve a little
misunderstanding. I mean, he is
adorable, pretty, loving, loyal, and gentle.
Shouldn’t all dogs that have the above characteristics
be misjudged? Who would ever think that this face…
The only way to really find out what
Mr. Witherspoon is really all about is to
call Stray Rescue and set up a visit (or contact ME!)
I will say that he loves to sit by me as we travel, stays right
with me on the trail, and always makes me proud
to be on the other end of the leash.
O adore you, Dubs. You are, and always will be,
my favorite pink-nosed pibble.
I was the lucky one that got to take Quinn on her first official hike.
When I walked into the shelter, I noticed her cute little face popping through
her apartment door. Since she knows me so well, it was pretty obvious
that she was excited to see me. When we got to my car, she very carefully
climbed into the front seat.
During the ride, she would try to climb into my lap but quickly learned to
stay in her own seat. I turned on some music and she quickly turned her head
sideways at the speaker as if to say, “Huh? What is that?” I found this to be
quite adorable and had to laugh a little.
Quinn had a blast on the hike. She got to explore and sniff. She did so great
on the leash and hardly pulled. She also behaved very well during the water
breaks. Since she was so calm and patient, she got to nibble on some treats.
She showed her best “shake” command too. Walking with Quinn is quite amusing
because she waddles when she walks and it is the most adorable sight.
Quinn was pretty worn out from the hike so she curled up in the front seat
and relaxed for the whole ride home. Once again she was perfect in the car.
From time to time I would reach over to rub her ears (she loves ear rubs).
I ended up spending some time with Quinn in her apartment and I must confess
she is the best snuggler. She is the most gentle and sweetest dog and
deserves to be loved.
I was so excited to finally get to get back out on the trail
with a shelter dog. For my first hike of the year, I was paired
up with Mirana, a gorgeous white terrier with piercing hazel eyes.
When I arrived at the shelter, I got Mirana out of her apartment
and we headed outside to wait for everyone to arrive. We sat on
the curb together and I gave her some time to feel me out. In no time
at all she was sitting right next to me, licking my face and laying her
head in my lap. She paid minimal attention to the other dogs around her,
and when we were ready to go, she hopped right in the back seat and
laid down, excited for the ride ahead.
As we drove down the highway, Mirana alternated between peeking out
the window, lying down, and putting her head on my shoulder. She didn’t
know what a treat she was in for. It started to gently sprinkle as we got
out of the car and headed for the trail, but Mirana didn’t mind, she just
trotted full speed ahead. At first, Mirana was a little rough on the lead,
but who could really blame her? There are so many new smells to sniff
and things to see! We passed two turtles at one point and she was very
interested in those, cocking her head to the side and pawing at them.
Once we left the turtles alone, Mirana and I fell into stride and settled
in for a nice long hike.
When we stopped for a break, Mirana guzzled lots of water
and gently took treats from me. She surprised me when I
took a treat out and she immediately sat down. She knows some
basic commands already! We paused for some pictures and belly rubs together,
and some more water. Mirana preferred to
straight from the bottle, like a fountain. She’s such a silly,
playful girl. The remainder of the hike was very enjoyable,
with Mirana constantly looking back at me and pausing every once
in a while to give me a nudge with her head or a lick on my hand.
As we forged on, it became evident that Mirana was ready
for a nap. She slowed down quite a bit, but then again, so did all of the other
dogs and hikers! For a morning in early October, it sure was humid!
We arrived back at the car, and stopped for another quick water break.
Mirana jumped into the back seat and immediately lay down.
I kept glancing back during the drive home, and this sweetie was
passed out! At one point she almost rolled off of the back seat! She
had a smile on her face the whole time. As we got closer to the shelter,
Mirana woke up and it was as if she knew her perfect day
was coming to an end. She snuggled her head into my shoulder and gave me
some kisses as we pulled up to drop her off. I know she had a day she will
never forget, and so did I.
For my first fall hike, I was lucky enough to go with
this sweet girl, Hideaway. At the shelter, she patiently
waited for me to leash her up, tail wagging and all.
While in the process she decided to shower me with kisses.
This girl is a lover! When we got in my car, rather
than sit in the back, she decided to perch her front paws
on my center console. She didn’t ever come up all the way
in to the front, but wanted to see where we were heading.
I let her do this since it’s hard to see out of the windows
in my 2-door car and she was so excited/cute! She popped
out of the car when we got to the trail and was ready
to go. She loved to lead the way on the trail and would
stop occasionally to smell. She picked up my slack and
kept me going.
When we stopped for a break, she showered
me with more kisses. This girl is such a sweetheart! She
loved the hike and was pooped when we finished. When we
got back in my car, she decided to come to the front
passenger seat to sit and then curled up in a ball.
Awww, my heart melted! She seems like such a chill pup
that just wants a human companion to share a home with.
THIS PHOTO COURTEST OF SARAH P.
Upon meeting Halite, I noticed immediately how beautiful
she is. There is a soft auburn underglow to her black
fur which perfectly complements her brown eyes. Those eyes
looked expectant. She knew she was going somewhere
different and maybe thrilling. When we got into the car,
she jumped around in excitement, checking out her
surroundings and looking out all of the windows for the best
view. Pretty soon she decided the most comfortable position was with
her head on my left shoulder, the perfect place for a sweet snuggle bug.
I believe she would have been happy to stay there
for the rest of the day. When we got to the trail, she
made sure I kept going at a good pace.
She was not going to be left behind! Her quirky personality
showed itself more and more as we hiked along.
Once we came across 2 turtles just
sunning themselves. Halite jumped back like they were
going to bite her. I think it is safe to say she has
never seen a turtle before.
A little further down the trail, a loose rock,
suddenly dislodged, went rolling down the hill.
Halite stopped in her tracks and watched it
intently, seemingly convinced it was a squirrel,
rabbit, or some other sort of small animal trying
to make a quick getaway.
Halite didn’t mind sharing the trail with others,
showing no reaction to the many bikers and hikers
we encountered along the way. On the ride back to
the shelter, she resumed her comfortable spot on my
shoulder before settling down for a nice nap stretched
out on the back seat. I am sure she dreamed about
happy hiking dreams.
My hiking pal this time was Svarovski (Ski for short).
I hadn’t really known her before this hike and had
never walked her, but we had a good time.
She was the perfect car rider, just laid down in the back
seat and kept busy with toys on the ride to the trail.
Once we started hiking, she did great. She was the
perfect hiking companion, she didn’t pull at all, did not react
to the other dogs and paid attention when ask to sit.
I hope she gets to go on lots of hikes because she does great!
(Unless she is adopted before the opportunity comes again!)
My hiking partner was BT. I had never walked him before, and to my
knowledge it was BT’s first hike. He was a little apprehensive about
getting into the car, but once I helped him in, he climbed right into
the front passenger seat and was raring to go.
BT loved to look out the window as we headed down the highway.
I rolled the window down enough for him to get his nose out, and he
enjoyed biting at the wind and making nose print art on the clean window.
At the trail, BT was eager to get into overdrive, but we chose to
walk at the rear of the pack to see if he would calm down a bit.
Stray Rescue staff also recommended that he be walked with
“harness lead,” simply wrapping the lead around his torso like a harness.
I found it difficult to keep both of us safe for other unrelated reasons,
and chose to let him walk on the full lead. BT seemed to prefer that, and
walked completely under control during the entire hike. He enjoyed
sniffing a pair of box turtles that did not startle him
when they decided they had had enough of dog noses up close and personal.
We kept up with the group, and BT responded to gentle pressure on the
lead to walk with me.
The trail was busy, with mountain bikers, runners and walkers on a
beautiful fall day. BT was not bothered by any of this traffic, and waited
patiently until it was his time to resume our hike. He gently took treats
out of my hand, and even drank out of the squirt water bottle as if he’d
done it many times before.
No hike is complete without a special reward for being such a great companion.
We stopped at McDonald’s for a burger, which he ate out of my hand
without nipping my fingers.
On the long ride back to the shelter, BT tried his best to stay awake and
check out the scenery, but sleep got the best of him and he snoozed
most of the way back.
BT is very attentive to the individual holding onto his lead, and he
will make a great companion for an active individual or family.
Just a comment—I observed BT at the shelter a couple days after
this hike. He was training with a staff member. Watching them….
amazing! He is clearly a highly-intelligent dog.
He focuses so thoroughly on his human friends, so attentive and willing to please!
that he surely has some herding dog genes in his mix.
What a great guy. ~Donna
Thank you for taking the time to read
about the shelter dogs and their adventures!!