When I am out dog walking the time can provide opportunity to let my mind wander. When dogs are in a relaxed state it rubs off on me as we walk along in our rhythm; we the two and four-legged, become one.
I catch myself thinking at times what it would be like walking down at their level; the view and certainly the smells would be far more intense! At different times of the year the sights change along with the seasons. This became even more obvious to me with our lack of winter these last few months. There was not a transition from snow, to patches of snow, at all in Toronto. We would have some snow, and then it would rain washing any evidence away.
What has really caught my eye while pounding the pavement are things out of the ordinary, and how strange they must be to our canine friends on first glance.
I have taken some photos to share my point to you, my readers. Imagine being a dog and all of a sudden seeing a menacing owl, crouched amongst some ground cover, on a person’s front lawn. One of the dog’s I was walking named Fulton took one weary look and froze with the standard pointing gesture dogs demonstrate (with their left front fore leg drawn half up, and tucked under), when facing this unknown object. He saw it before I did, and his body language illustrated exactly what he was thinking. I had a giggle and pulled out my phone to take the picture of the plastic owl and he checking each other out.
Another time while out walking Jett, a sweet mixed breed, suddenly saw a snowman that was now on a lawn we had passed many times before. Her pace slowed down and she too “pointed” at the snowman. It was only about two and a half feet high but intimidating enough wearing a hat, gloves and parts of its face were made from pieces of colourful chalk for eyes, a nose and a mouth. She then walked quickly by, but decided to go back when I stopped to see her reaction. Jett went slowly towards the snowman but gave it a big berth in case it suddenly moved and came to life! She did a half circle around it, and I encouraged her all was well and we moved on…
Some home owners wrap their bushes in burlap in our winter months and the results are the most incredible ghostly shapes! The bushes are like people wrapped in clothing tall and skinny or in hit and miss wrapping techniques which really allow anyone’s imagination – both two and four legged – to wander!
I find Halloween to be the time many dogs are literally spooked! They know their neighborhoods and when objects are suddenly hanging from trees or are stashed poking out of bushes, it demands a double take from dogs. Some dogs don’t even notice or have years of experience knowing that it must be that time of year again!
It is interesting seeing dogs react to other animals too. Some dogs get really keyed up when a cat suddenly walks across a road or if the feline stands its ground when we walk by. Some cats are obviously not frightened by a dog (they must have one in their own home) or are full of self-confidence!
I like to vary my walks to keep things interesting for the dogs and myself and some days we go walking in Sunnybrook Park. The paths are endless and one really feels outside of a major city. This park has a horse stable where the police horses used to be stationed. Now it is primarily a riding school and boarding facility for owners to keep their horse in Toronto.
The horses have the opportunity to be outdoors for riding lessons or for their down time. On occasion I dog walk by the stables with the dogs on leash. There are dogs that belong to the stable staff so the horses don’t even blink an eye when we walk by. The dogs, however, are very interested, but show no sign of fear of these large animals. Both species look at each other and I would love to know their inner thoughts! Another story, however, is when a horse and rider come toward us on the shared park paths. The dogs are really intimidated and will bark to alert me. I, of course, try to stop that so the horse does not get spooked!
Today when out for a neighbourhood walk I was told there was a pig outside of the church! This had to be seen with my own eyes. Sure enough there was a pet pot-bellied pig named Penelope with her owner enjoying the sunshine. She was visiting a March break camp in the church that introduces a variety of interesting animals to children with an educational component.
On occasion I have been glad my hand was firmly on a leash when a raccoon decides to lumber across our path in broad daylight. We have one that appears each spring in our garden. It never comes down in the daytime – thank goodness – but Abby, despite her senior years, flies down the steps to the tree it sleeps in. They must give off quite a scent! It sleeps away the days about three stories up and visits our garden for about three weeks then disappears. A month or so ago a mother and baby raccoons decided to cross the road a half a block in front of me. I had Abby and one other dog and had a harsh quick tug of the leash. This is always a reminder to be alert when walking.
One never knows what that simple walk may bring to spice it up!