Getting Back on the Horse

On Saturday I lost my dog.

Not permanently or anything. Actually, I’m not sure she was even gone for a minute. I was too frazzled to pull out my watch and time her, and all I know is it felt like she was gone for far too long. One second we were walking along the trail and the next I turned around to find empty space where she used to be sniffing.

Like the logical person I am, I immediately started thinking about how I had gone and let something run off with her. I let something eat my dog for dinner.

Thankfully I had met up with my mom for this hike, so she went one way and I went the other. After I had crashed around in the bushes, nearly ending up with a face full of spiderweb in the process, I heard a shout from the trail that she had been found. The brat had rounded back to the trail and trotted up as if to say, “hey, what’re you guys runnin’ around in circles for? Let’s get a move on!”

My initial reaction was to pick her up and carry her. As far as I was concerned, she was never going to set foot on the ground again.

That only lasted until I realized she couldn’t exactly go to the bathroom if I never let her walk again, so I settled for never (ever!) letting her off her leash.

But I’m a firm believer in getting right back up on the horse when you fall, because if you take a break to calm down you may never work up the nerve to try again. Sometimes you have to force yourself to do things that you know make sense, but you’re having a hard time rationalizing at the time. Suki is good about sticking to the trails, and she’s yet to ever actually take off more than a few feet into the brush. She only has one tag (her name and a list of phone numbers), so she doesn’t jingle and with her dark coat she can run along like a little ninja dog. In all likihood she had been just off to the side of the trail the entire time, sniffing at something interesting. Nine times out of ten she is good about coming back when I call her, and I’m not going to let that one time out of ten terrify me into taking away something she enjoys so much. So, heart in my throat, I forced myself to unclip the leash just minutes after I thought I’d never see her again.

And off she went, ten terrifying paces ahead of me.


Has anything like that happened to you? How did you react? I think I’ll be getting Suki a bell and a brightly coloured vest for our future hikes.

2 responses to “Getting Back on the Horse

  1. Yes, sometimes when I get on a scent, my ears naturally close down, so does my eyesight and off I go… I too eventually come back and give that look on why is my peep all freaked out. Then when do this, I end up on the lease again and I get training sessions of stay, come, and heel. I’m 5 now, so I’m a little better, coming when I am called.

    • I’ve also found Suki is better about listening the older she gets. Competing for attention with interesting smells is tough enough with my little herder, I can’t imagine how hard it must be for a gundog to ignore all the smells.

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