I adore this dog! And from the start I felt if he were on the trail and gently meeting dogs during the course of the hike, he could be muzzle-free. In an environment unlike the one (dog park) in which he was attacked, he might roam and explore without the muzzle's constraints.
My Frida seems to know (as dogs often do) which dogs are friendly and which dogs to be wary of. From the start, she had a fondness for S. and his playful ways. They both play in the wrestling lab way, although S. loves a good run!
Today, alone with Frida in the car, S. did not wear a muzzle. And for the first time, at the park, he met other dogs when he was wearing his collar without the muzzle attachment. He was wonderful -- smelling, taking his time, and learning how to be sociable.
I was always nearby, of course. But he was so happy! I didn't know he loves to swim! He did swim out to Frida's stick every time and she was quite gracious. I don't expect they'll do much swimming this winter. Still, it was so warm today and they were so eager!
Tomorrow is a busy day. I'll pick up Q., a Boston who adores both Frida and me (affection which we return), in the early part of the morning, before the Aussiedoodle arrivies for his one-night stay-over. Frida does much of the welcoming; she has a gentle, enthusiastic way of putting dogs at ease. And I think, in my human way, I greet in a similar fashion. And then we'll go for our second hike of the day -- a wonderful shared time and natural way to bond.
At noon, we'll return home: I shall eat lunch with my daughter Caroline, and then off we go, Aussiedoodle, Frida and I to pick up a pug/French bulldog for a hike along Humber River. The pug loves to explore, but all my canine friends do. More and more I feel their joy in running through forest trails. They have their own rhythms, running after smells, each other, easy-going walking, dashing off again, returning for a treat and happy word; I have become committed to hiking with my dogs who come into their own on the trail.
And later, a stop-off at T.'s place, who is missing our hikes due to a recovering sprain on his right leg. We're just walking along the blocks near his house. He goes about sniffing and generally enjoying our stroll, but it's not the same.
This week I am determined to bring my dogs to Clareville. I'll report back after that hike.
_A copy of a letter sent to a dedicated owner of two pugs who may be sharing our trail hikes.
"Starting January, I will be adding a fox terrier to our hiking group. That's around Ossington and Dupont, right near you, I guess. A few questions - what are your dogs' recall like? Are you comfortable with my letting them off leash if we're on a trail? The dogs I walk (except for one who has just been re-homed and is learning) will wander a bit, but will generally stay within viewing range and return when called.
The dog who has just found her new home cannot go off-leash yet, as I worry for her safety. Having one dog like that on our hikes is no problem, but I've decided that dogs hiking with me should be able to be off-leash. They love to run in the forest and open spaces, and I feel city dogs need this. I think this is one important aspect, and the other would relate to the nature of the dog. It's hard for me to walk aggressive dogs. The pleasure of the walk is really vital for all the dogs in the group, so I seek dogs that get along with others. I do walk some dogs who have certain difficulties, but they hike alone with me and my lab Frida (and the fee is slightly more).
And lastly, what time would be best for your dogs and how many times a week are you thinking of? Trail hiking is such a joy really and I must share this - this weekend I am boarding a Springer Spaniel who arrived crying and unsure and unable to settle. I was wondering what to do, really. But as always, my voice and ways are gentle and when boisterous, still gentle and loving, and I decided to go on three hikes a day with the Spaniel (and my Frida). The dog also suffered intense anxiety on the drive to and from the hike.
Well, he just loved crashing through the forest! It was such a joy to watch him relax in a natural element. This is his second day here. He has stopped crying; he is learning how to play (with his mouth and front paws rather than attempting to mount other dogs); and for the first time, he sat beside me in the front seat without barking, panting, and crying! He sat there, alert and curious. I am so proud of him! I tell you, it's the hike!
On our weekly hikes are a Golden, a pug/french bulldog, Chihuahua, until mid-December a Bernease/Border Collie/Shepherd mix, a fox terrier, a Boston, and my lab Frida. I take out only 3 at a time (plus my Frida) so our walks so I can attend and relate personally to all the dogs hiking with me.
To get started, I come over to meet with you and your dogs, at which time I also take your dogs out for a short walk in a nearby park. I am not concerned whether they heel while walking. I want my Frida to walk beside me when we're on the sidewalk, but on the trail, that's not important. Recall is.
Also there are some forms on my site which you could fill out for me - one is for boarding, so that one is not necessary.
I think your love for your dogs shines through in your brief letter about them and I really value that!
Thank you for your patience in reading all of this. I look forward to learning more about your Beau and Belle "
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.