We’ve been taking the dogs hiking every Sunday. We’ve also taken them to herd sheep, but that’s not always a practical option.
So, most Sundays we leave the house around noon and drive thirty minutes to a nature preserve that’s super obscure where the dogs can tear through the woods like maniacs and swim and play like happy little shepherds.
It’s my favorite time…honestly. It brings me a sense of peace and calm that I can’t find anywhere else. It’s just awesome—watching them run and play, circle trees, chase squirrels, pounce on one another, and then pass out for the rest of the night once we get home.
I wasn’t feeling well this past Sunday. But, it’s been such a pleasant experience that we packed up anyway and took Eddie and Lee-C to their usual hiking spot. They love the water, and we usually end up trekking through the creek for two hours before they find tall grass to roll around in and big rocks to climb.
I like taking the Subaru off-roading, which we get to do when we take them hiking, and since I failed miserably driving it through the sand on the beach in Delaware (the second time), seeing the Crosstrek in all of it’s off-roading glory is awesome. I like when we bring it back covered in mud. Patty usually hoses it off anyway, because she’s responsible like that.
This time around, Eddie was a little more inquisitive than normal. He usually runs off ahead of everyone—once we let go of his leash—but eventually comes galloping back to make sure we’re still behind him. He was really interested in swimming on this particular day.
He always loves to trot around in the water, dig for sticks, and come back covered in mud. But, he is usually pretty reserved when it comes to water he can’t stand in. On this trip, I kept finding him paddling around the creek to pull sticks from the beaver dams and crisscross from one side of the creek to the other.
At one point, we were all standing together on a giant rock when I spotted Eddie (from the corner of my eye) pull something from a pile of leaves and run away. It was suspicious. I chased him, calling his name in my “I’m totally serious” voice, and he stopped—eventually and begrudgingly—and relinquished his prize. But, not before he took a giant bite from it and swallowed hard.
It took me a minute to really understand what happened. He found human feces rolled in toilet paper and took off like fucking thunder…most likely to keep it away from Lee-C. But, the worst part was that he gagged at least two times while he was trying to swallow it.
I had to take what was left from him, with my hand, which was fucking disgusting, and normally I wouldn’t even write about this shit. (No pun intended). But, it was just so wild and utterly revolting that I feel the need to share it. It’s a relief, honestly, like a confession. My dog ate human feces. Yes, he is a dog, and dogs like gross things. But, still. Human feces? I don’t know why that seems so much more disgusting than dog feces…but it does. It’s filthy. My poor, sordid, ornery little border collie…
Khaleesi (Lee-C) is more attentive than he is. She stays close by, always peaking over the tall grass and around big trees to find us. She’s a real momma’s girl. And, she is also very protective of me. They’re both predictable in their own ways, and likewise, so different. Lee-C chases anything that moves. She wants to herd and nip and be the boss of everything. It’s been hard for us to teach her where her place is in the household, but she is learning slowly.
I was talking to a trainer the other day, and she asked me if I had anxiety or ADD. I told her I was diagnosed with both, and I take medication for the ADD. She said that in her experience, Aussies—like many other breeds—are highly sentinel animals, and they can tell when you have anxiety and/or take medication for ADD. I guess she can sense the increased heart rate, dropping/rising blood pressure, and other emotional responses to stress.
It’s fairly clear to me that the other three dogs know who’s in charge. But, Lee-C acts like she owns me. She’s a different dog when I’m not around, which is concerning. When people she doesn’t know approach me, she gets very suspicious—almost to the point of panic. She lives, breathes, and exists solely to be in my presence. At least, that is certainly how it seems.
The trainer said LB needs to start showing Khaleesi that she can be a leader in the house. She thinks that if she can provide more leadership for the dogs, Lee-C won’t feel the need to protect me all the time. I wonder, am I really so disturbed that even my dog senses a feeble, weakened state of mind under stress? Even so, LB has stepped up her game and taken serious ownership of the situation, particularly where Khaleesi is concerned. I guess the mother of dragons has finally met her match.
If you have any tips about working, training, or herding with an Australian Shepherd, PLEASE share them with me:)