Saturday, October 23

Dax Goes Hiking

Are we there yet??!
Today I decided to try out a trail someone recommended to me, with Dax, my pint-sized Australian Cattle Dog. I wanted to also try out Merlin's pack on him, in a rather feeble attempt to tire him out, as well as give him a "job" to do while we walked. He's not quite 13 months, and the pack doesn't hold much, so all he carried was one liter of water.

Dax loves walking of any kind, so I knew that no matter what the day would be a success. We drove to Darby Creek Metro Park. I didn't have a map, of the park, so we walked around it at first just finding out where all the trails were. For some odd reason, every single trail said "No Pets." Oooooooookay. I knew there was a pet trail somewhere, so we kept walking. And kept walking. After almost a mile, we found it. And I don't think it can legitimately be called a trail. It's a path. A gravel path. About 10 feet wide. In its defense, it is over four miles long. Unfortunately for us, I realized about 1/3 of the way in that I forgot to wear my walking shoes, and I that I drank way too much water with lunch.

We did end up doing three and a half miles in all. Dax did go into a "working mode," where he was quite obedient (not that he isn't always), kept his ears pointing back at me (normally he does not - so he's finally paying attention to me!!), and did exceptionally well at a totally new place without a "comfort dog" of any kind. He did bark at one set of strangers, avoided some others, but the majority of them, he'd wait until they walked by, then run up behind them and sniff their shoes. Then come back to me and expect a treat.

Dax's tiredness usually only lasts 10-15 minutes.
What I especially love about his backpack is that I don't see how he could squirm out of it. He can get out of his collar without batting an eye, and a harness with barely any effort. The pack fastens a bit more securely, so I imagine it would take much more to squiggle free. The only time he tries to escape is when he sees other dogs. Being a bit more proactive than normal, when he would start his "frenzy fest" when he saw a dog, I would grab the handle of the pack (ironically, placed there so you can easily help the dog up the trail), and if he started trying to slip free, I'd raise him off the ground slightly. Now, I'm positive that does nothing for his doggie body language. But it keeps him safe and secure, because he can't even try to get out of it if his legs aren't touching the ground. :)

Another interesting thing of note is that he apparently wears a smaller size than my corgi. I had to tighten everything to its smallest, and the chest was still too large for him.

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