We had glorious early autumn weather here this weekend and so we decided to hike up to Carter Mountain Orchard with friends. Failing to be outside on a weekend like this would be a severe crime. Liz, Bo’s mama, was out of town for the weekend and we were left with the beautiful Bo as our charge. I thought he’d have a great time in the woods and so we decided to pile him in the back of our Jeep and head out there.
My husband informed me on our way up that it was Festival Day, which meant that the entire town–and their dogs!–were at the orchard. I was nervous. Festival Day at the orchard was stressful for me as a human; I wasn’t sure if it was going to be totally overwhelming for Bo.
Thankfully, however, our hour-long hike up the mountain proved to sufficiently tire him out, and by the time we reached the throngs of people, Bo was in a calm, resting state.
A few things I learned from the outing:
- Bo is extremely even-tempered; he’s the perfect dog to handle a big crowd, especially once he’s a bit tired. Dozens of kids came up to him and most were very polite and sweet with him. He took it all in stride–even when a rather pushy father stuck his toddler in Bo’s face. The toddler kept grabbing Bo’s tongue and pulling it and Bo didn’t even flinch. I gently moved Bo away from the kid, who started to scream, but the father eventually got the message: Yep, it’s time to keep your kid from torturing patient animals. However, I was very relieved to have such a trustworthy dog with me.
- Taking a retriever to an orchard means that said retriever will try to retrieve every fallen apple on the ground… even when there are literally hundreds of fallen apples. I think he was eventually overwhelmed by all of the tasty retrieving options and finally gave up.
- I saw two German shepherd puppies among the crowd up there and got to pet one who had recently been adopted from a breeder in Chesapeake. The puppy was very sweet and didn’t seem too overwhelmed by the madness. As he walked away, though, I couldn’t help but notice his already extremely bent hindlegs, in the GSD show fashion. It made me a bit sad.
- Bo is especially fond of my brother-in-law, Win.
- Bo is weird about drinking water that’s not from his specific bowl at home. He was clearly thirsty when we reached the top, but when we offered him a bowl of water at the orchard, he only took one lap and then moved away. We kept trying to tempt him with it, but he was uninterested. Strange.
- On the hike down, we took him off leash and he was wonderful. He’d wander a few yards ahead of us but always stopped and turned around to make sure we were still following. A quick whistle or call of his name would bring him back to the trail after he went bounding after a random scent or squirrel. His recall is not superb, but he will always stop and listen when you ask him to; it’s just getting him to come that’s the hard part. A play bow on my part was often a helpful incentive. And a ginger cat cookie from Trader Joe’s…
- One of the most joyful things in the world is watching a dog running free in the woods.
- Resounding opinion of all of our hiking friends: “Bo is the perfect dog.” He’s pretty darn close.
All in all, we had a perfect day and I’m so happy that Bo joined us. I can’t wait to go on similar adventures with our own dog! And hopefully Bo will come along too…