Ray the Intrepid
"Let's do something different this weekend," said Gregg. "We haven't done anything new lately, and the summer is just slipping away."
"Great idea!" I replied, "What did you have in mind?"
"Let's get up early, take the dog and go hiking at Fountainhead Park," proposed my lovely husband.
I agreed enthusiastically. So on Saturday, we did just that.
Usually on the weekend, we'll drive to the lake and hike the trail there, but I thought a change of scenery would be just what we all needed. We piled into the car and took off. Ray, as usual, immediately curled up in the back seat, but the minute we passed the usual turnoff to the lake, Ray stood and started whining. I'm not sure if he was trying to warn us that we had missed the turn or he was excited to be going somewhere new. I rolled down the windows in back so that Ray could hang his head out. He took deep breaths of the air, his ears were flapping in the breeze.
When we got to the park, we found that there were three trails: one for mountain biking, one for horse and rider and really serious hikers (more than 17 miles long), and one that was only a couple of miles long. We decided that maybe Ray wasn't quite ready for a 17 mile hike so chose the two mile trail.
Not knowing what we would find at Fountainhead, I had brought both of Ray's leashes, the 6 foot leather leash, and the retractable leash. I figured, if we were going to be running into a lot of people, it's easier to keep Ray from lunging for their faces (still something he surprises me with every now and again) when he is on the shorter, leather leash. But if there weren't going to be a lot of people around, the retractable leash is good for Ray because it lets him get more exercise. He can dally then run to catch up. He can jog out front. He can wander a bit farther to sniff things. He really likes the retractable leash but it is not a good idea when there are lots of people and dogs to meet and greet.
We set out. It wasn't even 10 o'clock but it was already hot and steamy. I had Ray on the retractable leash and had the leather leash hanging around my neck.
After 5 minutes, the back of my neck was sweating. I said to Gregg, "I should have left this leash in the car. I don't think we're going to be meeting many people out here."
Just then the trail did a switchback and we were skimming the parking lot.
Gregg said, "Let me just run and put it in the car. I'll be right back."
He took the leash and jogged off. I looked around. The trail we were on didn't look that bad. The woods were a lot denser and the trail was narrower than at the lake, and it was muddy from all the recent rain, but still, not too bad.
Gregg returned and off we went. Ray seemed to be having a marvelous time. He was leading. I was trying to keep him on the trail.
I know there's a coon out there with my name on it.
After about 15 minutes in, I put the brake on Ray's leash. The trail went straight down. I walked up to the top of the steeeeep drop and said "Uh oh."
Gregg walked up next to me. "Let me go down first," he said.
"Good idea." I replied, "That way if I fall, you can catch me."
When Gregg got to the bottom, he turned and called, "Come on, Ray! I'm right here!"
I took the brake off the leash and let Ray pick his way down, heading for the sound of Gregg's voice. I was picking my own way down behind him. I was congratulating myself on bringing the correct leash thinking how hard it would be to try to keep Ray from pulling me over while on a short leash.
At least, that was my thought until we came to the part of the trail that had the steep drop-off to the side. And the part of the trail that had the footbridge with no rails and the gaps between the boards that were so wide that dog paws could slip through. And then the other part of the trail that had the steep drop-off on the other side. And the other two footbridges with the wide gaps, etc. etc. etc.
It was an exciting hike, fraught with peril for a blind dog, but Ray took it all in stride. He forded creeks. He climbed. He jumped over fallen logs (walk him to the log, let him feel the height with his chest, tell him to jump). He did his "I smell something" dance. (Back feet stay in place, nose goes straight up in air, front feet do a little jig from side to side). He explored a graveyard.
I smell dead people.
(I just like this one)