Sunday, February 8, 2009

Learning to walk

What? My children are 5 and 3, so surely everyone in my house knows how to walk, right? Well, sort of. Our newest furry Key is not sure how to walk. Yes, he walks. I mean, he can get from point A to point B, but we recently discovered that he does not know how to go on a walk. Bless his sweet furry little heart, I do not think anyone has ever taken him. Sure, he has been out on a leash to go potty but not just for fun. Plus, when I rescued him, he has some issues. He had been cooped up, unable to walk around for Lord only knows how long. The vet said it was not a joint problem, but he just did not have any muscle tone. He has already made great improvements in that area just from having free access to a backyard. But it was obvious to us immediately that exercising in any way was never a part of his life before.

We LOVE to go for long walks. We love it the best when Dunken can be free with no leash (as does he). That was one of our favorite things about Germany. Everywhere you look there is another awesome trail through the woods or to a castle or along a river. And Dunken loved every step we took. He loved exploring and sniffing and just being a dog. And we loved watching him. We were obnoxious first time parents giggling at every cute thing he did or pointing out every weird thing he sniffed.

In Louisiana, we did not have a convenient place to take "off leash" walks. We are so happy to be back here with places to go. Last Sunday afternoon, the weather was beautiful. After lots of cold and rainy days cooped up in the house, I decided it was time to get the kids out and about. David was instantly on board, as was Dunken.

We were ready to go. Dunken was immediately excited because he knew he was going with us. He knew because he saw the leash (I am anal and always take it just in case; David makes fun of me.). This is also a sign to him that we are not just letting him ride, but he is getting to do something FUN. Max was oblivious. We get in the car. Dunken is fired up. Max is nervous - he still does not trust us completely. I think that every time we get in the car, a part of him is afraid that we are taking him back. David parks off the side of a tank trail (gotta love living on post!), and we let the dogs out first. Dunken is running around, sniffing, leaving his mark, scratching off. Max just stood there.

We get the kiddos out and everyone is headed down the trail. Dunken in the lead; he is always the leader. I look back and Max was sort of milling around. We called him. He was still not sure what to do! Bless his heart! I spent the bulk of our walk hanging back to keep him focused. Dunken still runs full speed from spot to spot. Max never ran at all! I finally had to hook the leash on his collar to sort of show him the point.
I'm walking, but I have no idea why!

I think he enjoyed himself, but I also think that he was never clear on what we were doing. Like he did not get the point - he was thinking, "I already went potty, why are we still out here?" Poor Max.
Am I supposed to be with them?

FAST FORWARD to this Sunday afternoon. We went to another tank trail to try another walk. The weather was even warmer today. We parked the car, the dogs got out. After I unhooked the kids, I was afraid we were in for another day of Max being out of it. He was walking slowly in the wrong direction for a ways, but then it happened. He saw where we were all headed. He picked up the pace and actually ran toward us! We were all so excited!

We would stop, the dogs ran ahead. BOTH dogs. The dogs would be off sniffing something, we would walk ahead. BOTH dogs would hurry behind us to catch up!! I could have cried! He gets it!
The wesite boys - BOTH enjoying their romp.

It was so rewarding. It was a great walk for many reasons. The kids had fun and explored many cool things.

Sitting on an old army vehicle wheel they discovered.

Following deer tracks we saw all over the place

Spencer gets so tired of my taking pictures all the time. . .
We all enjoyed being together.
After a while, they both "hitched rides" because their feet were so tired.

Our westies, both Dunken AND Max ran and sniffed and played.
And a few times, Dunken even let Max be the leader. . .
Max, in the lead, if but for a moment.
We all had a great time, and the westie boys were tired out afterward,
Dunk, relaxing on the ride home.
Especially our Maxers:
Learning to take walks in hard work!

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