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OUR ANIMALS, OURSELVES: Take the dog on a walk in the woods

May 25, 2017
By ANNOEL KRIDER , Lake Placid News

I'm always reminding my dogs how lucky they are as we run through the trails in our woods off leash exploring every nook and cranny of the wilderness.

One of our cats, Sophie, loves to join us now and then, enjoying the freedom of running wild with the dogs, dashing up and down trees and just being a part of the pack.

I suppose this kind of liberty comes with its own set of consequences, especially if one doesn't have a strong ability to control their dogs.

Article Photos

Sophie the cat and Laddie the dog go for a walk.
(Photo provided)

One of our past dogs, Laddie, an Australian Shepherd, was a superb companion to run with staying close and observant. Once when we were walking through the woods, he came to a dead stop and as still and calm as could be stared in the direction of a big black bear not 50 feet from us sauntering through the trees as if oblivious to our presence. Laddie didn't bark or chase after it, both of which would have aggravated the bear to who knows what end.

On another walk, Laddie again stopped dead in his tracks and fixed his eyes on a porcupine hiding in plain sight no less than 2 feet away. Again, he remained calm and nonreactive as we continued on down the path.

Another one of our dogs, Ms. Molly Malone, would have barked her head off and charged full speed ahead having no sense of the ramifications of her actions. Molly would catch fox and raccoons, to our horror, although she always seemed to have a sense of remorse afterwards. Her futile attempt at catching a skunk lead to an unpleasant afternoon of multiple baths and a disastrous encounter with a porcupine didn't deter her from four more unsuccessful confrontations. Molly was a stray when we adopted her and had developed survival skills that she maintained throughout her life. However, her recall skills were zero when another animal entered the picture.

Of course, there are areas in the Adirondacks where running dogs off leash is against the law. The High Peaks for one, a wild wilderness where you once were able to run up to Avalanche Pass with your dog freely trekking around the terrain. Now if you want to hike the High Peaks with your dog, it has to be leashed.

You also need to consider other people out walking. Not everyone likes dogs, and they may not want a big friendly dog running up to them. Even if it's only to say hello.

And if that person happens to be walking their dog on a leash, you can never assume that this dog is friendly and will welcome a visit from your dog. There is an etiquette one needs to follow when out walking or running with your dog, and having a dog with good recall skills is top of the list.

Another concern when letting your animals outdoors is the tick, flea and mosquito population. These pests carry with them potential health risks, including Lyme Disease and heartworm. So make sure you are protecting your animals. I've heard that no matter what time of year it is, unless there is a foot of snow on the ground, there will be ticks around. There are a variety of repellants depending on what you want to put on or in your dog or cat. I personally choose the less hazardous route and use natural products as a flea and tick deterrent.

One has to be particularly more diligent if you go this route and regularly check your pet and in the case of natural oil repellants apply them daily.

A few resources for going alternative are Dogs Naturally Magazine, Only Natural Pet (great products) and an interesting alternative email newsletter by Dr. Will Falconer DVM. Your veterinarian can talk to you about other means of protection.

Walking your animals is a healthy and bonding experience. You'll both be happier having exercised and consequently you'll have a better behaved pet.

So walk your dogs multiple times a day and if you can, search out those places where you can let them run freely, which is something I believe every dog needs to do. Either way, know the laws and know your dog, and, depending on the environment, bring your cat along, too.

Also consider volunteering at your local animal shelter, where there are a good many dogs who would love going for a walk. The happier the shelter dog, the more likely it will get adopted and a good long walk will make for a happy dog.

Happy trails.

 
 

 

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