September 23, 2010

Walking the Dogs

When my dogs were younger and I was a little more spritely, I used to take my dogs for walks around the neighbourhood or to a nearby park. From the start I trained my dogs not to bark at any other dogs, even ones that rushed up to the fence furiously barking at us as we went past. 

I used to hate that part of the walks - those rotten dogs that would rush at us, especially when they were rather large or stuck their heads over the fence at us. My heart would leap into my throat when I was startled, which would ruin our leisurely, relaxing walk. But over time we got to know the nuisance dog and would stay well away from their fence.

What was worse though were the dog owners who thought it was perfectly acceptable to allow their aggressive dogs to freely roam the streets. Occasionally I would have to pick my two little dogs up and hoped I could hold them high enough out of the reach of the snarling dog that wanted to chew on them. Fortunately the scary, nasty incidences only happened a couple of times, but it too would ruin what was supposed to be a nice leisurely walk together.

I discovered a dog-park nearby that allowed people to take their dogs there to walk, run or play. It was a great spot, right on the banks of a salt-water creek which gave the dogs an interesting place to explore. One section was full of mangroves and the dogs loved to roam through the mud, sniffing the over-whelming smells and chasing the occasional crab.

In a large area, one could throw a frisbee or a ball and still have lots of room left-over for others to use. My two dogs could play with others that came along to the park as well, though mine were a little overwhelmed at times as most of the other dogs were much larger than them. My older dog Scout was especially mindful of this and would usually stand between me and the other large dogs to protect me. Once I realised that she was not enjoying herself because she felt compelled to protect me, I began to stay away from others with larger dogs so that Scout could relax and have some fun.

Late one afternoon I turned up at the park with my dogs and there was nobody else around. We took our time walking and exploring and before long the sun began to set. We were standing in a large area when a vast swarm of insects flew up from the grass. At that moment, a huge group of small birds, swallows I think, swooped in and started eating the insects. Flying and zipping around us in a large clowd, it was like being inside a small storm of birds.

Standing in the midst of it, I twirled around and despite their large numbers, not one bird even came close to touching me. It was incredible to be inside that swirling, swarming living mass!

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