I wanted to work this weekend, or so I said.
There aren’t enough hours in the week or the day for that matter, but I insisted on getting up early Sunday so I could work. “Rise before the dogs,” I said, “get a good run in first and then take them to the park for a ball toss and ‘Harper Training session’ and then I promise to get my head down and work.”
I got up, did my long run, and started to get the dogs ready, but the sun was warm, and the sky was blue, and there aren’t many beautiful summer days left (work can wait another day). So Tim and I threw our backpacks on, gathered snacks, water, camera, and set off to Discovery Park.
With over 530 acres bordering my neighborhood, there’s much to explore, and today was a perfect day to do that.
Life’s different now, and because of the restrictions prohibiting gatherings, Discovery is closed to anything but foot traffic. It has cut down on the number of visitors and provides an opportunity to explore the hidden trails (PM me for secret paths we’ve discovered since moving here in July). Living just a stone’s throw away from the entrance, we use that time for well-behaved walking and revisiting manners (#austin).
After the first entrance gates, we are greeted with what I’ve named “Austin Field.” When we get here, he knows the leash will come off, and a ball or frisbee will soon be air-bound.
Today’s was like no other.
Austin’s Field is double the length of a football field, and given the right Chuck-It, the ball can almost cover the distance!
After a few tosses, we are all eager to head to the Lighthouse. The trail we cover is loaded with blackberry bushes, and the dogs eat right from the bush. It’s always surprised me how they instinctively know what to eat and not to eat.
I still have vivid memories of Brady getting “caught” in my prize blueberry bushes eating the ripe berries. However, Austin has seemed to have taught Harper the fine art of snag and rip and run.
We like the overgrown trails, and I hate going down the paths everyone else does, even if it takes us about an hour to descend to the beach. Now, if you know Discovery, that may seem like a very long time to go about 1.5 miles, but this is no race (for once), and slow and steady is the key to keeping Harper engaged, moving forward, listening, and preventing her from hitting the wall.
If that happens…one of us is carrying a tired 27-pound puppy back up the ascent home.
We arrived at the beach and are rewarded with more berries (that bush to the left of the tall tree is LOADED with blackberries). And, foolish us, we didn’t pack a bag to put our bounty in….but for those who have dogs, poo bags can be reused for many things 😉. *PSA, please please pick up your pet’s waste, and please take it with you. If you are worried about it leaking, double bag it, or, better yet, recycle plastic bags you get from the market to store it in.
Now for the fun!
Yes, Harper has been to the ocean, she has touched the water in Maine (brrrr), but there’s nothing like the wild abandon a pup will feel when they become a confident explorer and oh did she ever. Between chasing waves, chasing Austin, and chasing us, this little girl spread her wings and took flight.
I often wonder what that feels like...
I know I feel happy when I see both of them just running with the rush of adrenaline and energy and not a care in the world.
It’s hard to remember the last time I felt that. Maybe we all need to chase that feeling and to remember it again. Renew that sense of naivete, to not judge, and never be too busy to learn. We can all take a lesson from our dogs.
And Austin—water is his happy place. Always has been, always will be.
Between seaweed, sandpipers, paddle boarders, kayakers, other pups, the day was filled with laughter, smiles, salty pups (and people).
We round the corner around the lighthouse, and the crowds (all ten people) disappear, and we are on our own to head home.
Both dogs calmly walk as we crossed the point where the riptide has broken along the pebble beach, and the waters are as still as a lake. I look out, and the sea otters I have seen on my runs lately play in the distance (lucky sighting again!)
We’ve still a hike home, back up the steep ascent into the park. Both dogs are happy, trotting along, and I feel like we became an even more special little family. I wish I had Tim document the 6,952 steps (maybe more maybe less) back up to what I know is a short trip home, but we were focusing on Harper and getting her up those steps.
As we approached the field, which then is an easy mile walk home, Tim decides we should take...
“THE SHORT CUT.”
Thank you, Ruff Wear; while we didn’t have the Handle Harness, we could safely get Harper up and down the path less traveled.
Fast forward 30 minutes, and we are firmly on the ground (pavement to be exact), and finally headed home. Three hours and 5.8miles later.
Yes, a long hike for a 4-month-old pup. We took this hike/walk/adventure slow, deliberate, and with lots of breaks. There was no pressure because these two creatures are our responsibility when it all comes down to it. They trust us with their lives to be their pack leaders, not their dominators, but to lead them responsibly, with care and caution. On that front...job well done.