Trail through the woods

Last week, Leia and I were invited to visit my friend Sally, her husband Frank, and their three dogs.  They live on a beautiful ten acre property that abuts a private nature conservancy.  Sally and Frank are members, so I was invited as a guest to enjoy an early morning one and a half hour walk through the gorgeous countryside with Sally, their Labrador Retrievers Ravyn and Luna, and English Setter, Birch.

Leia and two year old Ravyn immediately bonded. It was hysterical to watch them enjoy wild zoomies down the path and through the woods.

Ravyn on left

Routine stops were made by Leia to wallow in available mud puddles. Ravyn accepted the occasional invitation to join Leia for a beauty mud treatment. 

The wooded trail ended at the lake. All four dogs ran ahead and leaped into the water for a refreshing swim. Leia no longer does the splashy doggie paddle; she now swims like a true Labrador.  We were at the dam end of the lake, and Leia tried to climb the concrete lip to get out of the water. The lip was about 3 inches above the water level, just high enough to make it difficult for the dogs to get enough purchase to pull themselves out.  Leia wouldn’t swim over to the shoreline where she could have walked out; instead, she insisted on trying to climb the lip where I was standing.  I finally grabbed her by the scruff and pulled her out.  I stood up, turned my back, and she jumped right back into the lake.  Fun! Fun! 

Luna in the lead, Ravyn, and Leia

After the dogs had a good swim, Sally took us on a different trail (Leia and Ravyn stopped for another mud bath) which led us to the lake’s boat launch and pier. All four dogs crashed into the water for another swim.  Sally threw a stick from the pier and Leia followed Luna and Ravyn by leaping off the pier into the water.  I always had the feeling Leia would leap into water. She’s so bold and fearless. 

Mud loving Leia

After another delightful swim, the dogs reluctantly joined us for the trek home. 

Back at the house, Sally hosed off the dogs before we sat down for lunch and conversation. Both Sally and Frank are ornithologists, and their property is home to a multitude of feeders and birdhouses.  I had the thrilling privilege to see an Indigo Bunting at one of the feeders. I have not seen an Indigo Bunting since my childhood when my Dad pointed one out to me in the mountains outside Shippensburg. 

Before we left, Sally went out to the chicken coop and gathered a dozen fresh brown and blue eggs for me to bring home.

Leia crashed on the back seat and fell asleep.  When we arrived home, she was given a shampoo bath to get the deep seated mud and grit out of her coat. 

What an amazing walk we enjoyed, and it made our day!

**NOTE: Just today I read this PSYCHOLOGY TODAY article about nurturing happy dogs, and it resonated so deeply with me. Our off leash walk in the conservancy allowed our dogs to BE dogs, to be HAPPY dogs. Such an important part of the life of a well-adjusted canine.


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