Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Our Weekend Adventures...

I love weekends, but they go by way to quickly for my liking. Weekends give both of us some time to hang out with our dogs together. Normally I'm home alone with the dogs while Nigel is working. Saturday morning is usually taken up by hiking with HikeABull or close friends. Sunday is training day with "Our Pack" . Although Jake and Abbey are well trained you can never get enough training or break the consistency. The other aspect of taking the dogs to training is that we get to meet and hangout with an awesome group of people, who have helped with our development to become responsible dog owners.

HikeABull at Joseph D. Grant County Park
It's through the Our Pack training group that we first learned that there were local dog hiking groups, later on we joined the HikeABull group. We started hiking when Abbey was around six months old. At this time Abbey was a rambunctious puppy, full of life and ready to play with any dog or person. Abbey couldn't resist meeting other dogs. Hiking within a group provided an environment in which Abbey could learn that it was okay to be around other dogs without the need to meet all of them. 

Exploratory hike at Loch Lomond Recreation  Area
Unfortunately, not long after we started hiking, Abbey suffered a knee injury that stopped us hiking with the group for several months. Abbey did eventually recover from her injury, which allowed us to start hiking again. During the time we weren't able to hike with adopted Jake.

Hiking with a group of well managed dogs is so beneficial to Jake and Abbey. For Abbey it allows her to further develop her manners around other dogs. She's so much better these days then when we first started hiking, she no longer tries to rush up to the other dogs. Although, she still tries to steal the occasional sniff and kiss from dogs that walk along side her. Jake lacks confidence but in a pack he's the most confident, happy dog around. He loves walking with other dogs but unlike Abbey is less inclined to meet and greet them. While walking with the group he holds his head high and proud.

HikeABull at Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve
After regularly attending hikes organized by Lark for several months, we felt the need to pay something forward for the work that Lark had been doing for quite some time and so offered our services as hike organizers. We've been organizing hikes now for around nine months without too many problems. The biggest problem we face is Jake and Abbey are so tightly bonded that it's sometime hard for us to be separated in the group. When we're out hiking with HikeABull, we like to have an organizer at the front and back to ensure all members return safely. If Jake and Abbey go out sight they will either start pulling towards each other to catch up or simple put the brakes on so the other one can catch up.

Exploratory hike at Mt. Madonna
Another difficulty is making hikes enjoyable and interesting. We don't like to use the same hikes repeatedly, so we're also on the lookout for new places to go. Tracy, the forth HikeABull organizer has a great knowledge of the county and national parks and is an excellent map reader. Frequently, the organizers together with a small group of members will go out mid week searching for new hikes that would be suitable for a larger group. Sometimes the exploratory hikes are successful and other times they're not. We have to take quite a few things in to account when searching for new hikes, including, difficulty, parking, making sure dogs are permitted and that the park is strictly on-leash only. We also need to think about how busy the trails will be at the weekend and whether we're going to be sharing the trail with mountain bikers or horse riders.

Exploratory hike Butano State Park
All in all HikeABull has been unbelievable helpful in both Abbey's and Jake's development. We've also used HikeABull to help with our foster dogs as it's an excellent way to socialize dogs in a safe and friendly environment. We have such an amazing group of people within HikeABull that the hikes are always over way too soon.

~Nigel and Alzbeta

Abbey and Kelly on their exploratory hike at Almaden QuickSilver County Park. We found a secret trail .

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