Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ramona Falls With Miley

Today's forecast called for temperatures that were NOT triple digits and some friends of mine were planning on hiking Ramona Falls.  Even better, this hike included a wide trail with lots of area off to either side that wasn't crowded with underbrush.  It was a hike that I wouldn't feel guilty bringing a giant ass dog on!  It also helps that I've done this hike before with both Heffner and Bess and knew what the trail conditions were well in advance. ;)  What I didn't factor into the equation is that Miley hasn't been introduced to the dog walk yet.  i.e. a downed tree.  Specifically a downed tree over a rushing creek/small river.

Unfortunately the bridge was out and the water levels aren't quite low enough to make a water crossing feasible.  As you might imagine (and can tell from the above picture), the tree "bridge" was a deal breaker for Miley.  I tried a few different tactics and I tried finding a different crossing option for her, but nothing was going to work.  I told my friends to continue on and I would keep working with Miley to see if I could get her comfortable enough to cross or find another route.

Miley has been experiencing some decreased confidence lately (I plan on talking about this in a separate post), and there were a few obstacles that she was hesitant around that I figured I might as well take advantage of the time and opportunity to let her get comfortable with them and work her through at least some of her hesitation.  I was pretty sure there wasn't going to be any getting her across the log, so we tackled the other areas.  She spooky around the water in the creek.  It was fast moving, choppy and visibility was very poor.  So depth perception was completely gone.  We tackled that first.  I pretty much handled it like I did the lake water on our first trip out to Hagg Lake this year.  I just kind of popped a squat right at the waters edge and let her figure things out at her own pace.  I quietly praised her first when she would lap at the water.  And then when she would stand in the water.  It didn't take her long to realize that this water was very similar to the lake water and was fun to play in.  I did figure out that the middle of the creek was getting on towards waist deep on me, but thankfully she was figuring out to feel things out with her feet first without just plunging into the rapidly moving deeper water.  I'm glad that she figured this out on her own. ;)

Once she was cooled off, we set off upstream to see if I could figure out a better crossing for her.  The shoreline was littered with downed trees and debris, so walking directly next to the water wasn't ideal immediately around where the bridge should have been.
We climbed back up to the main trail and then made our own way upstream.  The terrain is honestly pretty ideal for working on jumping obstacles with decreased impact on the joints and body of the dog.  There's this lovely spongy moss and lots of pine needles that are all over the ground that made for fantastic landing material for Miley.  She was initially hesitant to jump over some of the logs, boulders and tree debris that got in our way.  She fairly quickly got over that and started actually busting her way through areas where the underbrush needed busting through.  Atta girl!  As we kept going, she was slowly gaining more confidence in what she was doing.  So maybe her not crossing the creek wasn't such a bad thing after all.

Our next obstacle of sorts was getting back down to the creek.  The area that we were traipsing through was raised above the creek bed by a fair bit and most of it had a very dramatic and steep descent that just wasn't possible.  Finally I found a spot (looking back, I wish I had been taking pictures/videos of what we were doing to better illustrate in this post) that would technically work.  The descent was still a little steep, but not beyond Miley.  I was a little hesitant because it was trickier footing for me with only two legs.  Miley had no problem!  Once I started toward the descent, she went ahead of me handled it like a champ!  I almost ate it a couple times.  So I guess I'm glad I wasn't trying to get video of that. ;)

From there we meandered up and down the creek.  Miley was getting more and more confidence and handling the rocks and boulders with ease.  She was venturing out into the rapidly moving creek and wasn't panicking when the large grain sand would give out from under her.  I tested a few different areas that I thought might work for a crossing, but the water got too deep and the current was too strong.  The last thing I wanted to do was terrify Miley by having her do a water crossing that would be tricky at best and possibly injure her at worst.  She was being a good sport the whole time and following me where ever I went.  I checked my watch to see how much time had elapsed since we had left the original crossing and we were at an hour past.  I decided to call it and head back to tree bridge and see how she was feeling about it now with more confidence in the terrain.

We watched a few different hikers with various dogs cross over the tree.  I was partially hoping that she would see the other dogs crossing and either see that it was doable or at least take note of how those dogs were handling it and apply it to her own footwork.  Right, because a 15 month old great dane is going to studiously watch other dogs for their footwork so that she can later apply it to her own methods......I can't help that my train of thought isn't always realistic!

At any rate, Miley chose neither option.  She just wanted to play.  Right.  15 month old, super social girl puppy.  Makes more sense.  While we were hanging out, a couple of people on horses showed up to check out the "bridge."  Needless to say, they didn't attempt a crossing.  Miley handled the sight of the horses fantastically!  She did come to attention, but she seemed more curious than anything.  I did have her by the collar, but she wasn't putting any pressure on it.  She didn't vocalize, she didn't freak out, she just watched interestedly.  That is a reaction that I am very happy with.

I finally decided to call it good and head back towards the trail head.  On our way back we passed several other hikers who were just starting out.  Miley is really good at picking up on patterns when we are out an about and she has to do something frequently.  I've noticed this on our closer to home hikes lately too.  I like being able to have my dogs off leash while I hike, but I am very aware that not everyone wants a giant dog to come running up to them.  So my preference is to have my dogs close to me when we are near/passing other hikers.  Trail manners are a great thing to have.  Miley was great!  She got to a point where every time she spotted people ahead of us, she would stop and look back at me for what to do next.  I was VERY pleased with this!  I usually had her recall back to me.  Which she also was really great at following through on.  I was incredibly pleased with how well behaved she was!  Though I will admit that part of this has to do with her personality and not necessarily because I've trained this set of behaviors so studiously with her.  She's a very biddable dog and we weren't coming across anything that was a super high reward for her.  And she got a TON of praise from me each time, so she was a pretty happy camper.

Once we got back to the truck, I decided to pile into the truck bed with her and rest a bit while we waited for the rest of the crew to get back.  Here again I also have to praise Miley on her behavior.  I left the truck bed open so that we could catch the full breeze (it was over cast as well and the temps were not terrible, though still warm).  While I was laying lengthwise across the opening, she didn't once try to step over me to go say hi to new people or new dogs.  She was quiet, and while interested in the things going on around us, she was very well behaved.

After a while, the rest of the crew got back and we headed into Sandy to grab a bite to eat.  After some searching the day before, we found a place with outside seating that would allow dogs.  This was more difficult than I originally anticipated, but we persevered.  Miley was again very well behaved.  Everyone ordered food that I'm sure had to smell incredible to her, but she was pretty happy to lay on her blankets, chew on a toy I brought and just generally chill.  All together, it was a pretty great day!

1 comment:

Laura and The Corgi, Toller, & Duck said...

Sounds like a really fun trip! Such great conditioning and confidence building for Miley!