Do I seem different to you today? Maybe I look different? You might call it a new and improved version of myself? You noticed? Why thank you. Thank you so much for those kind and polite words.
Yes, it is true. I, the lowly Moose, have been granted a title. Boss Lady has long dreamt of us being able to earn an Important Title. She’d be happy with a CGC, thrilled with an RN. Thus far, though, we’ve failed miserably. It’s not my fault, really. I mean, I can only do so much with what I am given. And the Boss Lady ain’t what you’d call Grade A Prime. But, I've forgiven her and we’ve moved forward with fewer dreams of strings of capital letters trailing my name.
The events that unfolded yesterday, though, rekindled Boss Lady’s hopes that someday we’ll work well enough together as a team to be recognized by those Big Important Dog People. You’re wondering what it was we did yesterday, aren’t you? I didn’t think it was really all that big a deal, to be honest.
We went for a hike. Not even a grand hike; we only went to Pine Hill Park. I’ll have you know I lobbied hard for Moosalamoo, and when it was obvious that wasn’t going to happen, I lobbied again for Shrew(WooHoo!)sbury. But, that didn’t happen either. Something about the great likelihood of a prevalence of gun-toting men in the woods. And, when it comes right down to it, if my options are around the block on a 6-foot leash or around the hill on a 20-foot leash you can bet I’m going to choose the latter. Pine Hill Park it was.
The Boss Lady and I haven’t visited Pine Hill Park in awhile. Last summer, and all through the winter, we spent quite a few weekends exploring Pine Hill Park. This summer, though, Boss Lady has been much more willing to explore points farther from home and less crowded. Pine Hill Park’s greatness has been much publicized of late and with the publicity have come more people and more dogs. Not all of whom are as well behaved as me. *cough cough* So, Boss Lady wasn’t exactly thrilled at the notion of hiking Pine Hill Park on what would most likely be one of the last beautiful Sunday afternoons of the year. She fully expected the place to be crawling with off leash dogs. But, when it comes right down to it, if the options are a place crawling with gun-toters or a place crawling with off-leash dogs, she’s gonna choose the latter option every time. Plus, there was the added bonus of the brand new suspension bridge completed just last weekend. She really wanted to see it.
So, we loaded up the backback and convinced Boss Lady’s Mother that hiking was a much more fun way to spend the afternoon than cleaning the gardens, and off we went. And just as she expected, there were lots of cars in the parking lot. We didn’t even get into the woods before we encountered other dogs. A couple with 2 dust mops pulled in directly behind us. As Boss Lady was unloading me, the couple parked right next to us (even though there were plenty of other spaces) and unloaded their dust mops. Boss Lady was somewhat concerned by the proximity of these other dogs, but I mostly paid no attention. We all approached the trailhead as a group, despite the fact that Boss Lady was moving as quickly as possible in an effort to put some distance between us. I moved along side her in near perfect heel paying no mind at all to those yapping dust collectors.
As soon as the trail split, Boss Lady took the trail less traveled. She knows it’s less traveled because we less often encounter other hikers on this trail than on the others. Just as we got out of sight of the trailhead (and those other dogs), a mountain biker came racing down the trail towards us. This, also, was expected by Boss Lady. The mountain bikers were just as likely to want to enjoy a last nice day as the hikers. Boss Lady quickly called me off the trail and down-stayed me. I don’t like bikes. Not when I’m running alongside, and not when they’re racing by me. They’re menacing monsters and I’m inclined to attack first and ask questions later. The biker approached quickly, slowed as it reached us, and then stopped to talk when it turned out the rider knew Boss Lady’s Mother. I, being the good boy that I am, mostly held my down-stay. I wriggled a little. And crawled a little. And whined a lot. But, I didn’t bark. Or lunge. Nor did I bark or lunge at the 2nd bike that flew by while we were talking to the first. Boss Lady was impressed and praised me highly.
We continued on and encountered 5 more bikers. For each and every biker I calmly down-stayed off the trail and patiently waited for the biker to pass. Not once did I bark, or lunge, or even seem more than acceptably curious about the bikes. Boss Lady didn’t have to squat down next to me to hold me in place. She didn’t have to get pulled flat on her face when I tried to eat the bike and she tried to restrain me. She didn’t have to tell Boss Lady’s Mother to stand between me and the trail to shield me from the bike. She just had to tell me to down-stay. Did I mention she was impressed?
It wasn't until the end of our hike that we encountered our first off-leash dog. The trail we were on came out at the pond, and somebody else was already there. That somebody else’s dog was off leash and not particularly interested in sharing the pond with me. It also wasn’t particularly interested in obeying it’s owners request for a recall. Fortunately, we were able to detour away from the pond, and the dog, without incident. And, while I wasn’t as nearly perfectly heeling as during my encounter with the dust mops in the parking lot, I was far from out of control. I even managed to give Boss Lady my attention several times. As soon as we were out of sight, and hearing of the other dog, I calmed right down and continued without worry. Boss Lady was impressed once again. Avoiding an off-leash dog is usually much more of a hassle and involves disjointed shoulders.
Just as a further test of my good-naturedness, we encountered 4 more hikers on our way down. At each encounter I happily heeled to Boss Lady and didn’t show any interest in bothering the hikers. Usually I really want to run over and say hi. Many hikers do not find the prospect of a 90 pound GSD running full speed ahead towards them pleasant. Many hikers do find the sight of a calmly heeling dog quite impressive. I’m proud to say, I was one of the impressive dogs yesterday.
When we finally made it back to the car, Boss Lady informed me that our hike had turned out to be one of the least stressful ever. She then told me I had officially earned a new title: Very Good Boy. You may feel free to address me with this new title at all times.
And, yes, we did find the suspension bridge.