Walking the Dog

Moar Treats? Moar Walks??

I had the unmitigated pleasure of spending last Thursday through last Sunday with my opinionated little canine “niece” Bentley. Fortunately, her opinions all involve walks and treats rather than politics (which she thinks is what happens when your parrot swallows a watch).

On the other hand, her opinions on walks and treats tend to be rather definite (and rather on the greedy side). She knows what she wants (all) and when she wants it (now). My giving in to her opinions on walks led to some unexpected yet interesting results Saturday morning.

Sadly, I didn’t have my camera with me to document those results but did take it along on two other walks to document the beauty of some local parks.

My life — and perhaps this is true for most — often seems a combination of bad luck (born with defective hearing) and good luck (jobs I almost always enjoyed). I suppose it’s that one remembers the bad and good luck whereas the average day-to-day stuff, one doesn’t.

Maybe it’s a sign of a positive attitude, but, despite any bad luck, I tend to think of my life as blessed and lucky. I may not be wealthy, famous, or powerful (or tall, dark, or handsome), but I’m very aware that my life, such as it is, is happier and much more fortunate than that of many.

One element of my good luck is where I ended up living after my disastrous attempt at being married (bad luck there). I have a great condo — an attached garage and everything on one level with south-facing windows and a skylight in the living room. The icing on the cake is some great places to walk. In particular, some pretty awesome parks with trails through wooded areas that are almost as good as being in the forest. [see Scenes From a Walk]

Bentley loves any kind of walk, but I think she especially loves walking the wooded trails. Maybe I’m projecting my love for it, but I maintain she shares that love.

Not really a trail but a steep barely navigable path down into a deep heavily wooded valley. More for the local deer than humans or dogs. It’s about a three-story drop; one we’ve never braved.

One of the large parks a short drive away has two baseball fields and some tennis courts but focuses on being a frisbee golf course (formally known as Disc Golf). Other than being outside and walking around, I can’t say I’ve ever been attracted to any kind of golf, but it seems popular. Most evenings, there’s usually plenty of people slinging discs (something I used to think only DJs did).

Behind the outfield fence of one of the baseball fields. That steep path down into the deep valley (previous picture) is to the left.

To be honest, I could do without the golfers. It’s like trying to take a walk on any golf course. I like the rare evenings where there’s almost no one around and we have the park more or less to ourselves. We usually have to avoid the “golfers” (and sometimes people playing baseball or softball).

From centerfield of the second baseball field looking back at the first one. The tail of its rightfield fence sticks out into the middle of the picture from the right.

When we first started walking here, I noticed a sign posting what I assumed were the park rules. One of which was: “No dogs”. Which meant Bentley wasn’t welcome, but I’d seen other people with dogs and figured, if them, why not us? A further data point: other city parks and trails have poop bag dispensers, but there were none around this park.

Along the paved path that snakes through the park. The baseball fields are behind the trees to the right. There’s a golf tee center right and the golf goal further back center left.

I finally realized the sign I’d seen was the rules for golfers. A different sign had park rules with the usual admonishment to pick up after your dog. And a restriction on leash length (6 feet). I always pick up after the dog but often let Bentley have the full run of the nine-meter retractable leash (if no one is near; I do keep her on a short leash when we’re close to others).

A lovely stand of old pine trees. If you look closely, you can see the picnic table nestled among them. Kind of an odd, although pretty, spot for it and perhaps nice on a hot sunny day.

Until last fall, the area on the north side was more wooded. It had trails winding through it that made us feel as if we were in the deep woods. Enough trees to keep (most of) the signs of civilization out of sight. Very peaceful and restful. A balm for the soul.

The park is fairly large with a lot of open ground broken up with clumps of trees. Even with a fair number of golfers around, it doesn’t feel crowded.

But (I assume because disc golf is so popular) last year they cut down a lot of those trees and installed more golf “holes” (although they aren’t holes, but baskets). There are still a few spots where it feels “in the woods” but it ain’t like it used to be. And even those spots often have golfers trucking through them to the next tee.

Full circle back to the parking lot looking out at the first baseball field. The second field is just beyond it to the right (in front of the parked cars). See my shadow in the dappled sunset light.

Ah, well, nothing great lasts forever. Cherish ye the blossoms while ye can. They wither and die soon enough. Pity I never remembered to take my camera (that is, my phone) along. I meant to but so it goes.

It’s still a great place for a walk. It’s become the usual spot for the evening walk. We typically take one longish walk first thing in the morning and another longish one in the early evening. We have various short outings throughout the day (and a quick one just before bed). We both love being outside.

§ §

Until we discovered this next place, the golf park was one of the best places for a walk. There are a couple of runners up (one of which I’ll come back to), but they involve longer walks than Bentley really enjoys. She wears out after a mile or so, two tops. Not really a distance dog.

A friend of mine told me of a nearby park he takes his dogs to. I’ve been meaning to check it out. He warned me that the trails are also used by motor and pedal bikers, so best to hit it in the very early morning. Like around sunrise.

Sunrise at the new park. My car is the only one in the tiny lot. We were still the only ones there when we left (a solitary walker had come and gone; we encountered him en passant on the trail).

Bentley and I finally checked it out this past winter. Because snow (and cold), we only explored a small section in the open area near the tennis courts (to the left in the picture above). Didn’t get into the wooded trails at all.

Bentley on the alert for something she heard in the brush. The dirt trail is typical throughout. Some areas are open and grassy. Some are more wooded.

This time we did, and wow, this is now the number one place to walk. There are two loops of trail. A shorter one (the “north trail”) and a longer one (the “south trail”). They have in common their south and north ends, respectively.

Along the south trail and a fairly wide path (most of the trails are narrower). Very pretty but not nearly as heavily wooded in most parts as the north trail (which is mostly woods).

Friday morning, we explored the north trail, and I have to kick myself for once again forgetting to bring my phone. Talk about feeling away from civilization despite it being so close. Only when the path veered close to the park boundaries could I even tell we weren’t in the deep woods.

It’s almost hard to believe something this wonderfully wooded exists in my little suburb. Granted, we’re on the very edge of the Twin Cities, but still.

The plan was to return Saturday morning but that didn’t happen (for reasons I’ll explain). We did return Sunday morning. I wanted to take the (shorter) north trail again but in the opposite direction. Somehow I took a wrong turn on the common trail, and we ended up on the (rather longer) south trail. I’m still not sure what I did wrong.

A tiny wood bridge over a stream feeding a small lake (left). Bentley is wondering why I’m just standing there. She doesn’t really get the taking a picture thing.

Still, it was pretty, and I did have my phone with me this time (hence the pictures you’re seeing). It was a longer walk than intended, and at one point I wasn’t sure we hadn’t gotten a bit lost, but we found our way back eventually.

Just past the wooden bridge in the previous photo looking out over the lake. The trail proceeds to the right and winds around the lake to the far side on the way back.

It did give me a chance to see the lake my friend had mentioned. Very pretty in the morning light with the mist hovering over the water. I mean, seriously, how lucky is it to have a park like this just a short drive away? (Answer: very lucky!)

This picture because of the little stand of aspen trees in the middle background. The park didn’t have a lot of aspens although they’re common around here. Aspens are cool because they’re actually the visible above ground part of a single below ground plant. Those aspens are identical clones.

The longer walk was my error, but Saturday morning (both times) is on Bentley and her strong opinions about walks. Therein lies the story about unexpected results. It begins Friday night when I watched a fun double feature (more on that next post). Friday and Saturday nights are my beer nights. I allow myself up to three each night. (I’m not strict about it; sometimes I have four.)

One last picture of the beautiful trail through the woods. The trees are mostly pine with makes for a hushed environment. Very quiet walk!

I was in a party mood and extended that to Bentley. She got a lot of treats that night, and earlier she’d had some new treats her mom scored from a neighbor. She also got to sample the foam from my three beers. And she loves to eat spring grass. My guess is that it’s sweet and tasty.

Regardless of which it was (or perhaps all the above), she threw up (I think while I was in the shower before bed). I didn’t notice it until Saturday morning. No problem, it goes with the territory, and it cleaned up fine. But I was concerned about her tummy, and when she expressed a desire to go outside, I quickly put on her harness, and we stepped out the door. For a quick emergency before driving to the park was my intent.

But she didn’t need to go and insisted on a walk in the neighborhood. Which, fine, whatever. As it turned out, we saw a deer in a field on that walk. It was about to bolt when it saw us, but I started singing to it, and it perked up its ears, stood there, and just listened until we were well past it. Second time I’ve immobilized a deer by singing to it. Very cool!

Bentley was definitely off her feed that morning. Didn’t want to share my morning banana, and she loves banana. Mid-morning, I took her out for what I planned to be a short stroll in case her tummy was still upset, but the little dickens again insisted on a longer walk to a nearby park (the park in Scenes From a Walk).

Which was fine, there’s a way to follow the paved path for the more interesting part (smell-wise) and a beaten trail that’s a shortcut back to the road to go home. I figured we’d do that — about a mile of walk. (That first walk was about a mile, too.)

But Her Royal Highness has always wanted to explore the beaten trails that branch off that more traveled one (I think they’re deer trails). I was pretty sure it was a mistake, but I was as curious where they led as she was.

It was a mistake. The trail didn’t lead anywhere helpful. Just wound around and around until I wasn’t sure where we were. And it certainly wasn’t taking us back to the road. I finally made us backtrack (which we both hate) and then took a wrong turn that took us deeper and deeper into the park.

Worst of all, through a major patch of God’s worst invention: ticks. I looked down at Bentley, and there were four crawling on her back. On closer look, there were about a dozen crawling on her. And about six to eight on my pant legs. (It’s a bad spring for ticks this year.)

The trail wasn’t taking us anywhere good. Just kept winding around. I finally figured out where we were, and we climbed up a steep bank through the brush to get back to the park’s paved path. And then we had to walk back to the park’s entrance and then a long block home. It ended up being more than two miles. Except for the ticks, it was a great adventure (and now I know to never take those trails again).

All tuckered out after her great adventure!

I pulled three more ticks off her (and two more off me) once we got home. I hate ticks so much that, in comparison, I love mosquitoes. Ticks creep me out.

Leeches used to, but after using them as fishing bait for many years, I almost find them cute. Even the tiny ones I found between my toes after swimming in Thompson that time didn’t bother me a bit. (Remember that scene in African Queen? Bogey freaking out?)

Stay walking, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

8 responses to “Walking the Dog

  • Wyrd Smythe

    The worst was, once we were home kicking back on the couch (I was reading, she was snoozing), I felt something crawling through my hair. I reached up and grabbed what felt like a spider. Nope, tick. Ugh and Eww.

    I like to turn them into tick pulp using a needle nose pliers!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    I’ve long thought of myself as a “night person” — I usually get a burst of energy once the sun goes down. (Perhaps I’m part vampire? I do like biting necks.) And I can almost effortlessly stay up late, even all night long.

    But I’ve also come to enjoy being up before the sun. There’s something very refreshing about a new day. The air is fresh and sweet, and most folks are still bleary-eyed over their caffeine and eggs.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Yes, I do know the line is “Gather ye Rose-buds while ye may,” from the Robert Herrick poem, To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time. But as with those deer trails, sometimes you gotta branch off on your own.

  • The Bodyguard(s) | Logos con carne

    […] In the last post I mentioned watching a fun double feature this past Friday night. As described in that post, the party ended up having some interesting, albeit minor, consequences, but no harm done to tarnish the memory of these two comedy movies from Thailand, The Bodyguard (2004) and The Bodyguard 2 (2007). […]

  • diotimasladder

    Look at all that green! God Geordie would love that. But the ticks, not so much. And I would be screaming my head off.

    One time in Vermont I was staying at a friend’s guest house and in the middle of the night I felt something strange on my side. Sure enough. But the thing was, I couldn’t get the damned thing off of me. So here I am flipping out while my husband, half-awake, is talking about burning it off with a matchstick. Bad idea. The tick stayed, I got burned. I pulled and pulled with tweezers. I had no idea the skin on my side could come out that far. I squeezed the damned thing with tweezers—I swear, it wouldn’t squish. It was nuts. Finally I ended up using my thumbnail and I managed to decapitate the bastard and pull it out of my skin piecemeal. I don’t think I’ve ever recovered from the trauma of that encounter.

    Well, I want to say we’re lucky we don’t have them, but I hear we do (yeah right). Anyway, we have plenty of other horrible critters to more than make up for them. And plants. The “pokies” means I have to be extra vigilant when I’m walking Geordie, especially since he doesn’t always see the little broken off pieces of cholla.

    Glad you enjoyed your Bentley time. Sounds like you got some good exercise too.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Ugh! Nothing like a little middle-of-the-night body horror to create a life-long trauma. Yikes! Over the years, I’ve found plenty crawling on me, but only one that ever latched on. Noticed it on my side at my waistline while taking a shower. The soap and water may have helped in making it easier to pluck off. It hadn’t been there long; wasn’t full of blood yet. (In the past, I sometimes found gorged ones on my black lab. Super gross; I won’t describe it further.)

      Hopefully, nothing like that will ever happen to you again, but if it should, the modern advice is that the old advice about matchsticks, cigarettes, or smearing oil or Vaseline, are now considered a Bad Idea. Those tactics are all designed to get the tick to back out on its own. Problem is, they found ticks regurgitate before they back out, and if they’re infected (and haven’t already infected you) that can be a problem. Now the idea is to yank them off before they can react. Using your nail is exactly the trick. If you can get both the thumbnail and forefinger nail in a pincer action, that’s ideal. Scraping with a thumbnail works, too! 😀

      I’m surprised you have them in AZ, but I guess they’re just about everywhere. Should it ever be an issue with Geordi, there are such things as “tick pliers”. They have cup-shaped jaws designed to just barely not meet so they don’t crush the tick’s jaws. The idea is that the two halves of the jaws cup the tick and allow you to give a quick jerk and pull it out. Then the tick is in the cup formed by the two jaws. They work great. Used them with my black lab. I wish I could find them for Bentley. Might have to see if I can order them from Amazon.

      Definitely did and definitely did! (Enjoy my time and got some exercise.)

    • Wyrd Smythe

      p.s. All that green? In the winter it’s mostly white! ❄⛄❄

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