Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Greyhound Pack

Kona and I started the day with a run on the ridge. It's been awhile since we've tackled the full length of this backyard trail. For the past three months I have been nursing a weak ankle and Kona has been regaining strength after three bouts of a mysterious GI illness. Today would be our day to celebrate some healing.

I stopped to say hello to a sleepy Downtown.
As we started jogging, I took in the mountains to the North. There are times when I'd like to turn off the banter of traffic, but I often enjoy being able to take in both city and mountain views.

My lungs felt strong this morning, but my legs have some catching up to do. I'm amazed how just a short absence from running makes my gait feel jolted. It probably did not help that the ridge was Bunnyville this morning. Kona has a thing for bunnies and I was on the other end of her leash.

We stopped to explore a rut the recent rains carved out of the trail. Ruts usually aren't too exciting, but this one measured at least two and a half feet deep.

As we approached the last stretch of our run, the sun peaked over the rolling hills, promising another 70 degree winter day. I tried to snap a portrait of Kona, but this is as close as I got.
On the Training Front
I'm beginning to take Kona on more afternoon and evening excursions. Her fears and anxieties have always been more pronounced later in the day, so we've stuck to morning adventures to build confidence.

With recent gains in confidence, I think that Kona can handle the challenge of the afternoon. Today, we headed to one of her favorite trails. As I suspected, Kona was quite nervous. I took her on her long line, hoping the freedom would spark her enthusiasm. It did, but only moderately. She had trouble responding to me, but she would take treats, which is huge for Kona.

Towards the end of our hike, two off leash dogs came charging up the trail towards us. Kona does well with other dogs. They usually help ease her anxieties in stressful situations. Still, she can be very tense when she meets a new dog, which can get harry if the other dog is also tense or reactive. She also has trouble with excitement, so two charging dogs, greyhounds charging, made my hackles raise.

Amazingly, these two dogs came within twenty feet of us and turned around to run the other way. I then saw that they were only two members of a 6 (or 7) greyhound pack. We were headed on the same trail, so I gave them some space in front of us. A minute later, one of the dogs came charging towards us again. He charged right by, not even stopping for a whiff of Kona. We eventually caught up to the pack and passed them. Kona made it through with only a bit of tail tucking.

I was amazed at how nonchalant the large group was with the presence of Kona and myself. No one really cared. The pack was very much in its own world. Good dogs.

When we made it to the car, I was tired from Kona's higher anxiety. At the same time, I still feel proud of her. She was generally vigilant and tense, but nothing triggered her into a high level of fear. Even a strange man swinging a machete down a gulch only caught her attention for a few seconds. (I hoped he was official personnel, but I didn't stick around to ask.)

I think we'll continue with a few later-in-the-day outings a week.


Life With Dogs said...

See - all Greyhounds are not as bad as ours! ;)

Sara said...

I would have been freaking out if those dogs came charging at me, which would have freaked out my dogs! Good for you for keeping your cool.

Not scared of man with machete? I think Kona is VERY brave. LOL.

Sam said...

Yeah -- a pack of greyhounds and a man with a machete would have had Marge all worked up. good job, Kona!

We still find the afternoons challenging, but it has gotten better with time. My schedule doesn't really allow for mid afternoon walks, anyway, so our favorite times are early morning, noon, and evening.

KB said...

I'm amazed that a group of 6-7 dogs didn't scare Kona - we have a pack that size in our neighborhood, and even the well-adjusted dogs in the area get scared around them. Good job Kona.

It's odd that I keep reading on blogs about dogs with fears that they're worse in the afternoon/evening. I wonder why?

Your run sounds super nice. I can appreciate what a happy run with a dog can do for your spirits!