Carl White's Life in the Carolinas

A Pandemic Pup’s First Adventure
by
Suzelle Sinclair
suzelle.sinclair@earthlink.net

 

“You cannot share your life with a dog or cat and not know perfectly well

that animals have personalities and minds and feelings.”

~Jane Goodall

Ears perk and tail wags at the sound of, “Come on Gracie, we’re going on an adventure.” I don’t know which of us is more excited. Like folks across the country, we have been hunkered down at home for more than a year. During the pandemic, an unprecedented number of dogs were adopted as stay at home companions. As COVID restrictions ease, pet owners are looking forward to going out and socializing with their furry friends.

Excited – anxious might be a better word. There is a certain anxiety about going out after so many months of relative isolation. But for Gracie, a pandemic pup, this is the first time she is going out to interact with other dogs and people. She is an amazingly well behaved pup at home, but it is unknown how she will respond in a new environment. I want to make sure that her first outing is a pleasant experience for her, for me and for everyone we encounter along our journey.

For our first outing I selected a local trail that is dog friendly. I used the app, All Trails, also available online at www.AllTrails.com., to locate an easy, short trail that is dog-friendly With snacks and water for both of us, and bags so we leave no trace behind, we’re off for our adventure.

When we arrived at the trail head, Gracie was a little apprehensive about getting out of the car. After all, this was a completely new experience for her. She looked around cautiously, sniffed the ground, smelled the air, trusted my encouragement and then was ready to explore. We had  been working on leash training at home in the backyard and around the neighborhood, but this hiking trail had all sorts of new distractions for a puppy.

I was glad I had not chosen an outing that was overwhelming for her. Squirrels running across our path, ducks splashing at the lake and meeting the occasional fellow pup was quite enough excitement for her today. As we paused for a rest on the grass and enjoyed a refreshing drink of water, I pondered what today’s adventure was like for Gracie. The wonder of seeing, smelling and experiencing so many new things had tuckered her out!

Gracie did great today. She didn’t get overly excited when we met people and other dogs on the trail. She didn’t try to jump on people, bark or act afraid or aggressive towards other dogs. She didn’t try to tug on her leash. The training we did at home had paid off. She was very well behaved and ready to graduate to our next adventure. 

Heading toward the car, I smiled thinking about the sense of wonder Gracie showed today. I think about how her head tilted from side to side when we stopped to watch the ducks. As she smelled the air, I drew in a deep breath and noticed the delightful smell of pine, which I had overlooked before.

As we leave today, I remind myself of the importance of considering the point of view of others, including Gracie. Not only does it help me understand behavior and reactions, it also helps me expand my own sense of wonder as I explore the world around me. While I may have experienced something countless times, by approaching it with a new perspective, it becomes new again.

PAINTING BY SUZELLE SINCLAIR

To find the right dog-friendly hike for you and your pup,

download the All Trails app from the Apple App Store or Google Play or go to: www.alltrails.com

or

visit the NC Trails website at: https://trails.nc.gov/

or

South Carolina Trails website at https://www.sctrails.net/

CHARLOTTE WEATHER