October was a great month for The Ginger Sisters. My dad is living with me for the time being, and so the dogs have company all day when I'm at work. Although we haven't kept up with all of our fall training goals, we've had some interesting experiences of note.
On Halloween morning, my dad and I took the girls for a lovely hike in Evergreen, at an open space area with miles and miles of trails called Elk Meadow. I parked at the end of the parking lot to give us the best chance of getting in and out of the car without encountering anyone, but even though there were several other cars parked, we actually didn't see another soul until the return hike. It was a beautiful fall day and the trail we chose was very open, winding through a meadow flanked with pine trees. The girls had such a good time sniffing and exploring. At one point I took them into a mowed area and ran around with them, letting Boca drag her leash. She stayed close, paid attention to where I was and came running every time I called. That dog is not going anywhere.
On the way back we saw a few other people, but because of the tall grass I was able to take Ruby off the trail without incident. She didn't even notice the other dogs because she was too busy digging for voles. I was so happy to find this trail system that seems perfectly suited for walking reactive dogs. We will be returning for sure on some of my Fridays off. I was thrilled that we all got to enjoy some time in the beautiful Colorado mountains. Going places with a reactive dog is always a gamble and a risk I often don't want to take, but days like Friday made it all worthwhile. Unfortunately, I left my phone in the car so missed out on some great photo opportunities.
We had several loose dogs run up to us last week. Boca is absolutely fine with this, so I mainly have to worry about managing Ruby. Ruby initially greeted the bigger hound-dog type that ran over to us in our townhome parking lot politely, but snapped at him as he turned away. That was disappointing for me as I've always thought Ruby was more frustrated greeter than dog-aggressive. I still couldn't blame her - my dogs were the ones on-leash. A few days later a tiny fawn-colored chihuahua came running toward us - Ruby was excited but I wasn't terribly concerned and the owner scooped the dog up before it reached us. Another loose chihuahua charged toward us on Sunday evening, and while I thought the owner was going to call it back, she inexplicably went back inside her house leaving us to deal with the dog alone. Ruby was amped up by its barking but I was able to get my dogs away without the chihuahua following us. It's so weird that we had this happen three times in the course of a few days.
I've also started walking the girls in the neighborhood across the busy street, something I stopped doing for a while because the street crossing could be so stressful. I've found that if we go early on weekend mornings, there isn't much traffic, and now that the weather is cooling off there aren't as many cyclists and joggers out. I carry Ruby across even if no one is coming - it just makes me feel safer. Once we are safely across the street, aside from a few dogs in yards, things are fairly quiet and the wide streets give me an opportunity to change direction, zig-zag, and practice Ruby's heel in small circles (which she is very good at). We also don't have the cursed rabbits to contend with!
The end of daylight savings time means dog walks in the dark every day after work and I don't like it one bit. I have an LED collar and leash but find that they don't offer much help when trying to pick up after the dogs on the dark, leaf-strewn ground. I am not sure I can juggle a flashlight, two leashes and poop bags, especially when I'll soon be wearing gloves. I'm considering a head lamp - just the thing to complete my dorky dog lady winter ensemble! What ways have you found to make nighttime dog walking easier?