Here's the thing. I expect my dogs to be adventure dogs.
Granted, I'm not exactly a card-carrying member of the Mountaineers, but I do enjoy my fair share of stomping around the vast and beautiful Pacific Northwest wilderness, and I need my dogs to be okay with that.
Now my past dogs were hunting dogs. I intentionally sought out Irish Setters bred for the field, who loved nothing more than bounding along a trail with nose to the ground, wading shoulder deep into the brush, and filling their noses with delicious scents and their feathery fur with burrs and pickers.
But this baby came into my life with two years of previous experience, and while she certainly lived a rollicking outdoor life on her horse farm, and has marched around suburbia with me for the past month, I've had no idea how much wilderness adventuring she has done.
So yesterday, we set out on our first hike together and here's what happened.
^ After strolling down neighborhood streets for a mile, we took a quick left and suddenly found ourselves on a gravel trail, heading into a second-growth forest full of unfamiliar sights, smells, and sounds.. Baby did not miss a beat.
^ The first quarter mile of this trail sports a series of boardwalks and bridges, many of which are reinforced with wire grating. And while my dog was not impressed with these features, she didn't let them slow her down. Like any sensible dog would do, she simply avoided them.
^As I've done with my other dogs, as we are walking in the wild, I do my best to approximate a setter's natural hunting environment. As any good gunman would, I let my dogs out on a long leash so they can work the brush ahead of me, and walk quietly behind them as they search for worthy prey.
This little missy quickly found her enthusiasm for taking the lead, but often checked back just to make sure I was following along. Yep, I'm still coming, kid.
^ Nothing warms my heart like the sight of a setter working a scent. So proud of my girl for getting the hang of this hunting business.
^ She also has a natural enthusiasm for rest breaks.
^ And when we turned around to begin the uphill journey home, Baby needed another serious rest break. The temperatures had climbed up to almost ninety degrees, and my girl is still carrying some extra weight. Huffing and puffing, she dropped down next to a log and cooled off in the dirt and pine needles like a country girl.
^ Thanks to the cool breezes gently wafting through the gulch and some irresistible scents among the ferns, my girl was soon up and moving and ready to carry on.
^ And finally, after the long trek home and quick rinse with the hose, my girl settled in for a well-deserved nap.
Sweet dreams, Adventure Dog!