Mission Accomplished

Braved the first frontal attack of what is being called “the strongest storm in 50 years,” and which is “potentially historic,” and that some have dubbed “Stormaggedon” to retrieve this today:

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That is Youke’s Fourth of July collar.

He lost it on a hike with a friend this summer. Late July, I think. Or maybe early August. I know it couldn’t have been beyond the first week of August as there’s no way I would have left a Fourth of July collar on him into August. That’s just not proper.

Notice the rust on the bear bell and on the link to his Batman tag. It’s been in the elements for a while.

The day he lost it, I only noticed it was gone when we were headed back. My friend asked if I wanted to go back and look for it, but I declined. I knew it was useless given all the lush greenery that time of year. I kind of figured that he’d lost it when he was poking around in the underbrush by a creek, where the greenery was especially dense. Also, there were lots of prickles there that I didn’t feel like getting poked by. I told her I’d go back and look another time, but that in all likelihood, it would show up sometime in the fall, when all the growth died back.

I did go back twice this summer to look, but of course didn’t find it. Then, I got too busy starting in September and forgot all about it. Until this week.

I was out dog walking when I got a call from an unknown number on my mobile Tuesday afternoon. I usually don’t pick up calls from unknown numbers, but I saw it was a local area code and for some reason, I answered. Turns out, it was a good samaritan calling the number on the tag attached to the lost collar.

She informed me it had been hanging off the railing of the bridge structure that crossed over the creek bed and had been there for a few days. Obviously, she was a regular on that trail system.

However, while Tuesday and Wednesday were absolutely gorgeous, sunny, blue-skied filled and slightly crisp days, I had no time to go for a hike, even a quick one, to get it.

Instead, I went this morning.

This morning it was dark, even at 9 am, it was extremely wet and it was not warm. Not cold really, but not exactly warm.

Luckily for me, I have hiking partners that absolutely do not care what the weather is and that are game for adventure any time. They also don’t worry about needing a lot of wet weather gear, or really any gear at all. And best of all, they are always ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Therefore, I piled Jasmine, Youke, Brady and Camm into The Living Room on Wheels and off we went.

The dogs were ecstatic. They probably thought I was unemployed again. It’s been a while since we just randomly took off in the morning for a hike.

This is the beauty of being self-employed. Off for adventure, and return in time to work. I just need to remind myself that this is doable and a good thing to do when the days start getting darker and shorter. The time is growing short for our usual late day or evening outings.

Of course, I also need to not dwell on the fact that I’m putting in even more miles by playing with my own dogs. Instead, I need to focus on the fact that I can eat like a horse and get away with it.

I watched the dogs zoom in circles around The LRoW in the parking lot as we started out. The fantastic thing about this weather, and the time of day, is that no other people are out and about. The dogs got to be completely off leash, which delighted them immensely. Youke and Camm started playing chase and tag games, while Brady and Jasmine explored all the bushes and peed on all the things.

There is just something deeply contagious in the joy of a dog out exploring the woods. A dog, or at least mine, doesn’t care about the rain. The rain enhances the sounds and smells of the forest. A dog doesn’t care about the mud. The mud is simply another element and is embedded with the prints of woodland critters. A dog could care less about a fallen tree on the trail. It is merely something to clamber over, perhaps over and over again as part of a game, or it is an obstacle to jump over so the other side can be explored more diligently. A dog doesn’t get cold just because the sun isn’t out. A dog doesn’t care that soggy leaves stick to its coat, that pine needles are scattered across its face, or that its belly is covered in rich, dark mud.

A dog lives in that spectacular moment, surrounded by fresh scents, the sounds of thousands of things, its bladder and bowels emptied, accompanied by its beloved human and the canine companions it knows best.

I looked at all four of those open-mouthed, side tongue sticking out and bright-eyed faces looking back at me as we headed back down the trail and felt their joy stealing over me. Even when I had to point that we were going to the left – back down the trail – at the sign post, instead of right and off in a new unexplored direction, their happiness never left.

I suspect there’s a lesson in this for us all.

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