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I knew he was going to be a friend and hiking companion the moment I met him. S, is a mastiff/Shepherd mix with doe eyes and a compact physique. He barked when I first entered the apartment - my Frida does the same. I knelt down (I am not fond of hovering over, even if I am only five feet tall) and did a combination of chatting, treat offering, and simply appreciating. This is a fine dog, I thought. "Love at first sight" is what his human emailed his previous owner.
The story is S. was attacked by two dominant dogs and emerged scarred physically and even more, psychologically. When he feels cornered these days, he takes no chances. Our first walk (our getting-acquainted hike) took place on a Sunday morning at Humber Bay East. Also on the hike were my Frida and the finest, most gentle yet spirited Shepherd who is boarding with us.
I had a feeling S. and our Shepherd would get along famously. They ran and covered so much ground - I just stood and watched and laughed. Three dogs on the trail who had spent time in our back yard and then inside our home becoming acquainted (over forty minutes) before setting out for a car ride to our selected trail. By the time we hit the trail, they were fast friends sharing in the joy of free running and exploration.
Needless to say, S. doesn't wear a muzzle anymore.
Note: this is not true of all dogs who have become aggressive, but the case of one dog who, after being attacked in a dog park, was able to find peace and freedom on the trail.
Janice is the founder of and primary caregiver at Happy Trail Dogs Service. She is also the founder of an arts-related non-profit and worked in the fitness industry for over two decades. She is an artist, editor, writer, and mother of two wonderful women and a glorious lab named Frida.