Friday, 20 January 2012

Its a Dogs Life on Dumyat

We can never plan or foresee everything that affects our lives. Sometimes we have to make life changing decisions and adjust or adopt our life styles to suit needs at short notice. One such incident happened to me this week.

I have never been a dog person but I have never been anti dog either. I guess I just took them for granted. As a kid, my parents always had one around the house and sometimes two. My father was a vet and I guess his love of animals has passed down the family line as all my brothers have dogs in their lives too. However, I was always too busy to think about them. My working life made sure of that as I chased the coins.

Now Im free of the shackles and stresses of working life and when I heard, an owner could no longer keep their dog, I had to made a quick decision. I offered to take the dog and see how I got on with it. If I had not, this seven year old Staffy bitch was destined for a deep sleep. Is this a face only its owner could love ?

I enjoy walking and decided that as long as it did too..then we would both get along just fine. It has been a town dog all its life so Im not sure if it liked walking. It certainly liked sleeping as I introduced it to its new home. It doesn't realise just how close it is to never wakening again :(

Yesterday was my first full day with Holly (the dogs name) and I was keen to test her out. I suspected that a dog would be like a new pair of boots. Its best to go short walks to begin with to see how they get on rather than embark on a sojurn march and get crippled with blistered feet. We started up Dumyat but I turned back when the snow started. It was a bitter wind but it was also a good guide to see if I thought Holly would make the top at a later date.

This morning the weather looked better and so did the hill, covered in white. We started at the Sherrifmuir Road so the walk to the top is only 3 miles return and climbs 700ft. A good distance to test a dogs feet. When I let her out the car, she looked a little puzzled at the snow but was ready to go.

She has not been battered black and blue although I think her skin is needing some attention due to a poor diet ? She did have a fight with some hair dye and came off worse. I think its all part the reason her owner can no longer keep her, as the dog was left on its own all day, shut in the house.

The sky looked ready to snow again so we didnt linger. I think she was glad of that too as I suspect bare paws of frozen snow would feel cold ? I kept a close eye open for sheep and only let her off the lead when I knew there were none about and I wanted a photograph. I wasn't sure how she would react to wild life yet and I didnt want to get into a situation to find out the hard way.

I was please to see some sheep just ahead. Holly was on the lead. We got to within ten feet of the first one and she didnt bat an eyelid. She glanced at them and carried on as if they didn't exist. There was no glower or growl, no pulling at the lead or barking. Even the sheep didn't spook. Holly passed test number one with flying colours.

Looking over to the river Forth.. Im pleased to say her day seemed to brighten a little.

Once well clear of the sheep I let her off the lead for a little while. She trotted happily at my heels and if she got in front.. which she didnt do often .. a call brought her straight back. She was obviously well trained from that respect.

I was also please to see that she could walk without complaining. We were now not far from the summit and where I suspected test number two would be.

Just below the summit there are usually a lot of wild rabbits and today was no different. There were no sheep in sight so I let Holly off the lead when I saw a rabbit about 25 feet away. It was hopping around just below the rock I call the Nodding Bishop. I prayed that Holly would behave reasonably well. I pointed to the rabbit and said.. "Look Holly"

Holly looked, crouched a little then playfully bounded over the snow towards it. The rabbit started to run and so did Holly. I shouted "Holly.. come here" The dog stopped and the distance between dog and rabbit got bigger. She hesitated then started after it again. I called again, quite firmly. She stopped again, looked at the disappearing rabbit and then trotted happily back to me. I thanked the Bishop before heading for the top.

We made it to the top and I shared the biscuit I had brought, with Holly. I respected her for the way she behaved. I hope she wasn't just being good to escape the long sleep treatment.

As I watched the cloud thicken again, I also felt something stir deep inside me about this dog. I have a feeling we will be walking together to the top of many more hills. She adds some scale and interest to my photographs.

Holly is sleeping soundly as I write this..
but it is in her bed ..and when she awakes ..we will go another walk :-D

I guess every dog has their day ... and her previous owner is very happy too


Russell said...

Good on you for taking in Holly. Hope you have many happy days with her on the hills.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Donny.
Looks like Holly is well behaved which is a big bonus on the hills.
My mate takes his dog up the hills in winter.As its got a short coat like yours he,s got a windproof dog jacket just in case.It only needs this in extreme conditions though,driving rain or high windchill on the Munro,s,most of the time its fine. Its Paws sometimes get ice stuck between the toes but a quick brush out fixes that.Best of luck with your new hill pal.
Need to watch them near frozen lochs and rivers though.If he turns his back my mate,s dog is a wee bugger for running across ice.

Donny Wilcox said...

Thanks for your kind words guys is appreciated :-D

I agree that a windproof coat would be a good idea for Holly too. I think she is feeling the cold on the hills, so I kept her in the valleys today until I can get one for her.