Sweetpea’s Story – Hiking With Dog
I looked up from my laptop.
There he was. Giant ears perked forward and those lovely hazel eyes on me. His tail wagged as he lifted his head high and gave a grumble.
My dog wanted an adventure.
I pretended for a moment that I’d hadn’t seen so I could finish writing my current paragraph, but he grumbled again, padded forwards, and poked me with his nose. “You win,” I said, laughing, as I set the laptop down. “Let’s get ready.”
Sweetpea knew that phrase, so he huffed triumphantly and raced upstairs. He’s not a dog interested in chasing down balls, but he’ll take belly-rubs and hikes at every opportunity. And he, like many dogs, knows our routine and when it’s time to go outside.
By the time we were ready and out the front door, I knew which location we’d go to, but getting there would require a short drive in the car. An experience my dog didn’t exactly enjoy.
He looked at me like I was daft, and then walked to the end of his lead. He aimed his nose in a direction that would take us to the local lake and grazing sheep. Sweetpea looked at me and wagged his tail again. This is where I want to go!
We’d already hiked the lake in the early hours of the morning before work, but it and the location I wanted to go to where his two favorite spots to explore. Owning a Cretan Hound with some Husky and German Shepherd mixed in is not for those new to owning a dog. All three breeds are highly intelligent, and as Sweetpea’s mostly Cretan Hound, he’s got an independent streak that would be highly sought for police dog trainers.
It was one of the numerous things I revered about him. He knew what he wanted, and he wasn’t afraid to communicate it clearly. “Alright,” I replied, grinning. “To the lake!”
Well-practiced in hiking with my dog, we didn’t need much; one water bottle, one carabiner, the dog lead and poop bags. As an optional extra, my dog also had his bear bell on his collar; although we don’t have bears at the lake or the forest, I’d originally planned for us to go to, having a louder bell helps other hikers with off-lead dogs hear us coming and gives them a chance to be responsible with their dog’s behavior.
The lake is a hidden gem
Most don’t know the man-made lake is there. It makes a fantastic opportunity to get away from most of the irresponsible dog owners and allows me the rare chance to take a breath away from technology – whenever my dog and I go hiking, I never take my mobile. I know some hiking enthusiasts just winced, but I didn’t need it ten years ago, and I don’t want to be disturbed by social media when I’m exploring somewhere with my dog. That’s a recipe for disaster more than not having it. I want to look at the nature around us, see the animals that most don’t notice, watch the way the wildflowers dance in the softest of breezes. That wouldn’t be possible if I was looking at my phone.
After navigating the remains of a crumbling bridge, we entered the lake area. The sheep were already bleating ahead of us, but with the long grass, wildflowers, and the hills that made the lake, we couldn’t see them yet. So, we strolled along the beaten grass path, and Sweetpea paused every two feet or so to sniff at tiny yellow flowers that looked like exploding stars. These tiny little wildflowers had only appeared in the last year, but they were one of my favorites in the area for their complexity; I’m not usually a flower person.
As we walked between two hills, the lake below us crept into view, glistening in the sunshine. Swans, Canadian Geese, some Egyptian Geese, and hundreds of ducks broke its surface. The hills ahead swirled with red and green, and there, straight ahead of us, were the sheep.
They looked our way, munching on the wild grass, and I’m certain at this point they recognized us. They didn’t rush out of our way, just kept chewing and observing our approach. I gave a low whistle, a practice I’d started the first year we’d encountered the sheep, and they trotted ahead of us. They turned towards the lake and began the descent. My dog and I strolled past them, Sweetpea focusing on me and the scents they’d left behind and ignoring the sheep as I’d trained him to do.