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Adventures in dog walking

The main beneficiary of my fitness kick is Jasper. Actually, he is currently the only one benefiting, as I am exhausted all the time, so J and the kids aren’t seeing anything positive, neither am I. (But I soldier on!)

Pretty much every day, rain or shine, I go to the off-leash dog park near here and walk Jasper for an hour or hour and a half. This place is huge – a big hunk of forest and field. The main area is somewhat fenced in and frequently very busy. But you can head out past that into more dense woods and go for kilometres, should you be so inclined.

A couple of days ago, just as I was getting ready to leave (coaxing Boo, who is feeling much, much better, out of a tree up which she climbed about 25 feet – irk!), a dog that looked like a little rottweiler came trotting purposefully past and towards the parking lot. I spotted no owner, but sometimes dogs get ahead of their people. Still, as I waited for Boo to descend, I watched the dog, who had an air of panic about it. It popped out in the parking lot, then headed back my way.

It became pretty clear the dog was lost. If I hadn’t had to pick up the kids from school, I would have leashed her and gone looking for her owner, but I didn’t have that time. However, I also didn’t want her than near the parking lot (and adjacent highway) alone. So I took her with me.

She was a sweetie, very friendly, and when my kids met her, they wanted to keep her. I think Jasper did too. I had to explain that this wasn’t some stray we’d found wandering down the road and possibly abandoned. She came from a dog park, where people who love their dogs go to give them exercise.

The owners weren’t smart enough to put a tag with her name and their number on it, but at least she did have her rabies tag, with their vet’s number on it. I phoned and gave her tag number and, thankfully, they had her in their database. They called the owner, the owner called me, and Myrtle was home soon.

Today, I upped the ante by rescuing a lost person. The main area of the park is, as I mentioned, busy, which is good for Jasper because he gets to meet and play with a lot of dogs. But it isn’t so good for my exercise agenda, because I have to stop frequently while he plays or I answer questions on what kind of dog he is. So I often head out into the wooded area and march around there in relative peace.

I was pretty much in the middle of nowhere when I encountered someone else with his dog. He was up ahead, but his dog ran back to say hi to Jasper. Jasper was delighted. Just then, they reached a fork in the path and headed right, further out. I was torn. I wanted to go that way too and Jasper clearly wanted to play with the dog, but I figured it would look weird and stalkerish to be following this one guy in this huge forest.

Left or right? Jasper looked at me with his big sad eyes, begging for permission to go after the dog. I couldn’t resist and told him, “Go say hi.” He bounded after the dog and I followed. After a few minutes, I’d caught up to the guy and his dog. I said a polite ‘hi.’ He said a polite ‘hi.’ Then he said, “Can you tell me, which way is out of here?” I asked, “Do you mean, to the parking lot?” Yup. I pointed – really far that way. “I am lost,” he admitted.

The forest is criss-crossed with dozens of trails intersecting with each other. There was no way I could just say, “Go that way, then turn left.” I mean, the poor man was walking straight away from the parking lot with the belief he was walking towards it. His sense of direction was clearly non-existent.

So I led him back out. We had a nice chat, during which he swore he was never leaving the main area again. Turns out he’s a shift worker and had been up all night. He planned to give the dog a quick walk so he could get some sleep. He was a walking zombie. I hate to think how far away he could have gotten had I not found him. Jasper was delighted. The two dogs played together very well.

He was a lovely man, thanking me very politely and shaking my hand formally when we reached civilization.

Maybe next, I could find money. That’d be good.

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