Me and Little Girl, my little four-legged companion, took a hike this morning. Or should I say I tried to take a hike. I’ve been planning this hike for a while now, waiting for the perfect weather- not too hot or wet – and the best time – when I was actually free of prior commitments for several hours. My destination was to be Doe Run Lake via the trail head marked at the edge of our sub-division here in Northern Kentucky. The trail is not paved nor maintained very well. It winds its way through the woods and over many hills, ending at Doe Run park near the dam. I filled up my water bottle, packed a dog bowl, snacks for me and the dog, put on my hat and sunglasses, laced up my hiking boots and then we headed out the door. What could go wrong?
Well for starters this Kentucky native who thought she was in good shape failed to take into account that a year of walking and biking in Northern Indiana lake country where the biggest hill is a mole hill, was not getting in shape at all. By the time we were traversing up the third steep grade I was huffing like a chain smoker trying to climb a mountain. My body was going into revolt. We had to sit on a rock and rest at the top, before descending the ever-narrowing rugged path to the muddy gully below.
And then there was my little companion on her leash. She was not cooperating at all. Her first rebellion came when I forced her to walk through the wet grass and weeds that engulfed her and wet her legs and belly as we left the safety of the neighborhood sidewalk. I do not need a DNA test to know that my dog has no trace of beagle, lab or hound in her blood. This pampered pooch only wants to walk on pavement and poop on manicured lawns. Not what I expected.
Years ago we had two fine country dogs, a golden retriever and a black beagle-lab mix. These two boys loved nothing better than to escape their yard and go on a half days run in our rural Ohio county. The black dog was so good at escaping, even after we put up electric cattle wire to contain him, that he was renamed Harry as in Houdini. One time I got a call from a neighbor letting me know that Houdini was terrorizing his sheep, which could have ended very badly since sheep can die of fright. Any walk I took with these two beasts was always a contest of wills, seeing who could pull harder. But on today’s walk with my latest canine there was a completely different vibe. I’m sure if I had let go of her leash, Little Girl would have ran all the way home, or if she got lost, she would just sit down and cry. No running through the underbrush following animal scent for her.
After she had a tussle with a wild blackberry branch full of thorns that hung over the path, there was no convincing her to go forward. I wasn’t sure how far I could push – I mean pull – her as I have never taken this dog into the wild before. But I did know that I didn’t want to carry her back up all those hills as our deceased dachshund mix had forced me to do on more than one occasion. Once he was done walking, down he’d go, sitting on his rump. Unable to budge him or drag him home, I’d have to pick up this overweight sausage dog and carry him back to the car. And that was at a park with no hills.
Me and Lil Girl did make it down one last grade, where we came to a muddy rocky stream which needed to be crossed very carefully, before hiking up the next hill. I had to concede defeat at this impasse, knowing that neither I nor my dog was up to the challenge. So we turned around and started back. And it didn’t surprise me in the least that suddenly the dog’s tail began to wag as she led the way up the hill.
Back home, after I sat down and removed my boots, I pulled out my cell phone. It was 9:10 am. “Girl, we’ve only been gone 40 minutes,” I complained to my dog as she inhaled water from her bowl. “Felt like hours, didn’t it?” She wasn’t listening to me as she collapsed on the cool tile floor. Then I clicked on the pedometer app, still talking to the now semi-conscious dog, “I bet we walked lots of miles.” Then I yelled out, “What the $#@$%*, It says we only did 1.9 miles. Damn! That’s all? Girl we walk more than that on our nightly potty runs.” But there was one hopeful nugget. The app did record 13 flights of stairs. “OK! That’s good, ain’t it? We’ll take it.” Lil Girl raised up her head, then plopped back down. So I told her “We were like Rocky, jogging up all those stairs.” (Rocky music playing in my head).
This is not the end, I vowed. I will be going back sans Little Girl. And next time I’ll make it all the way to Doe Run Lake.