We have be trying to take Tasha on an official pack walk with Nelson, but timing hasn’t been working out. Saturday was so beautiful, when we thought about what to do, it seemed only natural to take advantage of the perfect Texas spring day and make our own pack walk.
We have a list of things we want to expose and habituate Tasha to on a gradual basis, and a pack walk would be a fun and exiting way for Tasha to do something she would otherwise not really enjoy. So, look out noisy families, other dogs, loud people with walking stick, big loud trucks in the parking lots, and sexy park rangers (oh wait, that one is for me) – we are loading the car – even if it takes hours – and we are going on a pack walk!
Who gets to be in the pack? Dr Jacky brought her dog Trip and our friend Jaime. Tasha is most comfortable in “uncomfortable situations” with one of her doggie friends. Trip and Tasha had never met. Trip and Chankla are old friends and Chankla is a seasoned hiker, so party pants Chankla got a check plus and she got to come with us. A perfect pack for trying new things.
Now Tasha has only been in the car a few times, they have involved going or coming to the vet. She likes to ride in the car, but she was pretty nervous about where we were going. Once we got in the car, she settled down taking her cues from Chankla who was quite confident we were NOT going to the vet. Chankla saw me pack the doggie bag. Doggie bag = somewhere good.
We picked Cedar Hill State Park. Cedar Hill allows leashed dogs. We chose the Duck Pond trail as it is a nice beginners path, not too long if we encountered any problems, and no bikers to scare our shy unsocialized Tasha.
The dogs had a few minutes to collect themselves in the busy parking lot. The lot was right off the equally busy road. It was a lot for them to take in while greeting each other, but that’s when having party pants along pays off. None of that phased Chankla and she moved the party along. Tasha’s biggest flip out moment in the parking log was when when we were loading up to go home, a big white van pulled in the opposite end of the lot and kept idling – animal control van association anyone? She did great overall and she impressed us with her trusting nature and her adaptability.
The dogs got in the grove on the trail right away. Two of the three dogs are big fans of nose work and they found all kinds of fun things to smell right away. The trail was single file – but wide enough for the dogs to stay next to you if that’s what you wanted. They were also wide enough to move to the side and let others pass. Chankla partied up front and Tasha stayed right next to me just like she does when we walk at home.
The dogs encountered other cars in the parking lot, dogs, families, kids, yelling, people with walking sticks, a man who was literally running after his family, food on the ground, a lot of things that cause Tasha to be reactive. She did great. We even practiced having her Auntie walk right behind her and right next to her – two things she really hates (anyone doing it) and she made great progress. Overall, she was relaxed and enjoying herself.
We had opportunity to test out the statue game theory further on some kids – it’s holding up.
Tasha bravely jumped over logs and freely waked up steep inclines.
By her third bridge, Tasha was a champ at bridges.
Hands down, everyone’s favorite part of the Duck Pond trail was the Duck POND!
Trip and Chankla knew just what to do. We were far enough off the trail that we felt OK letting those two off leash.
Tasha followed them into the water.
Tasha is still wearing her winter coat, and when she realized how good the cool water felt, she just layed down and said, “ahhh”
A small side note of bad news for Tasha, tomorrow might be her first bath ever. Wha wha whaaaaa.
Overall it was a super awesome outdoor adventure for everyone. We will do it again soon. Hurray for the State Park pass!