What a strange trip this summer has been so far. It’s been unusually cool, which I enjoy very much. I’m not a fan of HEAT heat, and it’s been a good summer for being able to hang around outside for hours and have tremendous flexibility about what time of day we go out and do things instead of getting up at way-to-early in the morning to beat the heat. But we’ve also had a ridiculous amount of rain which flooded trails and severely limited our options for where to scooter until just about 2-3 weeks ago. Even now there are long stretches of deep, soft sand, muddy silt, and debris piles deposited by the flood waters making the trails challenging.
Still, we’ve been getting out here and there. At first we had our adventures on the more public public trails (which serendipitously turned out to be a confidence booster for me since the dogs did really great), and now we’re able to get back to our more private public trails more and more. We’re only going a mile or so at a time since the dogs are out of condition, but it’s enough to keep us from getting too rusty and bored and a good opportunity to focus on polishing directional commands and working through distractions. It’s also been a good opportunity for me to shift my mental gears to a more relaxed attitude more in line with the gentle summer we’re having. I started out the summer determined to use this time to really whip the dogs into shape physically. Truth be told, in addition to the monkey wrenches that their back injuries and subsequent rest, the flooding, and some scheduling quirks on my end threw into that plan, in retrospect it made things less fun for us all. I’m focusing more on just getting some fresh air with my dogs, bonding and having fun, and just like last winter when I forced myself to chill out and relax a little the dogs are responding positively… they’re visibly more relaxed and happy, and running better and smarter when we do go out. I’m guessing this is a lesson I’ll probably need to learn at least one or two more times before it really sinks in: This isn’t SRS BUSINESS, so relax and have fun.
We’re doing a lot of non-mushing stuff, too. We all spend a lot of time hanging out in the backyard together enjoying the cool summer, the dogs intermittently wrestling/ keepawaying/ chasing in between napping, sniffing around, and chewing sticks. Now that the flood waters have receded, Pip and I are spending a lot of time at the dog park, where he enjoys swimming and I enjoy taking pictures of him because he’s so adorable.
Squash and I have started a foundations agility course. He’s a delight to work with because he has juuust about zero environmental sensitivity (eg, he’s not scared of any situation or piece of equipment), he really loves to work (if I’m honest, he loves stuff like rally obedience and agility far more than he loves mushing), and we’ve built up enough of a relationship by this point in our time together that we mesh, read, and “get” each other easily. So that’s been fun.
Maisy and I are continuing to mostly work on silly tricks, body awareness, recall, and our continuing journey to get her more comfortable with nail trims. Out of the three, she is the one who loves just hanging out in the backyard the most. She can stay out there for hours just napping in the sun safely behind her privacy fence and its padlocked gates. Much of the time I sit out there with her, reading; sometimes I just let her be and check on her/offer her to come inside frequently.
We are scootering maybe 1-2 times a week at this point. And what would summer be without a nasty scooter bruise?
And as if the world needed more proof of how wonderful she is, here’s Maisy finding the best alternate trail around a debris pile in the middle of our main trail without missing a beat and with zero direction or instruction from me.
I think we’ll continue this laid-back approach to summer this year, and I’ll try to remember it next year, too. Once the weather really cools off in the fall there will be plenty of time to work back up to skijoring condition, and in the meantime we’ll enjoy what we’ve got.