Monday, August 20, 2012

Proper Control

When we first started hiking in Scotland, we were seeing these “Keep Your Dogs Under Proper Control” signs everywhere. At the time, our hopes for Bailey ever living up to such a standard were pretty dismal (Notice the un-properly controlled dog on the sign bears a striking resemblance to our girl. Her breed is literally the poster child for bad behavior.). However, I am proud to announce that after 3 months of intensive training, our baby girl is now ‘properly controlled’.
We even put her to the test during a 7 mile hike around Loch Muick and she performed beautifully. What’s the secret you ask? Patience, hard work, determination…an 8 mile off leash run before the hike, and a pocket full of gravy bones. The child will do anything…and I mean, anything…for a gravy bone. Take out a peanut butter jelly sandwich and you will have her undivided attention. 
We have been taking her on off leash test runs lately, but only on trails that she’s intimately familiar with, that way if she did happen to chase after a deer/rabbit/pheasant/insert Scottish wildlife animal here____, she’d likely be able to find her way back to the path.

We originally planned to leave her behind for our Loch Muick hike, so we took her for an 8 mile jog beforehand to make sure she still got plenty of exercise for the day. When our friend Jillian assured us that if there was ever a safe hike to test out her obedience skills, it was Loch Muick, we decided to put our faith in her and set her free along the shores of this spectacular lake.
The hike is a well-marked 6 mile circuit, with a detour to some waterfalls available about 5 miles in. We managed to walk the whole route without getting lost once, and more importantly, without losing Bailey.

It’s widely known that I’m a fan of Lakeland scenery. I’ve already waxed on and on and on and on and on about my infatuation with England’s Lake District, so I was thrilled to learn that this setting is only an hour’s drive from Aberdeen. An hour’s drive. Seriously, pinch me.

This place cannot be real, and if it is, it can’t be just a one hour drive from us. One hour from Baton Rouge and I was standing in the French quarter of New Orleans. One hour from Midland, I was staring at tumbleweeds. One hour from Houston, I was still in Houston. One hour from Aberdeen and I am smack dab in the middle of a fairy tale, with a properly controlled dog to boot. Life is good, folks. Life is very very good.
In fact, the setting was so atmospheric that nothing I could write could do it any sort of justice, so I’ll just sit back and show you these snapshots of our hike.

Can you spot the deer in these photos:

Take that, England Lake District!

It goes without saying that we all three had a great time circling Loch Muick, but after our 15 mile exercise routine, we were all ready to do this:
It only took 4 hours of vigorous exercise, but we finally wore her out. The only problem is, I think we wore ourselves out more. I need to seriously look into training this dog to run on a treadmill. All I’d have to do is dangle a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in front of her nose, and she’d probably run all day long.

With innovative ideas like that, I could be the next Dog Whisperer. If you’re reading this, Cesar Milan, just have your people contact my people and we can work out some sort of partnership. Afterall, I did get a Brittany spaniel under proper control without the use of any sedatives, which is a pretty good stat to put on my dog whisperin’ resume. Now if I could only do the same for my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel...
I don’t think my training skills are a match for the craziness that is Samson Elijah. Wild hearts just can’t be tamed.    


  1. Glad you got Bailey to walk off lead! Unfortunately, those Cavaliers can never be tamed in the wild (sigh).

  2. So proud of Bailey girl and you, of course, for all your dedication. It's so nice to be able to enjoy the walks with out stressing about the doggies; even Angus is more pleasurable to hike with these days. We don't always have to bring them but it's nice to know when we do, they we will behave!

  3. I love the pic of Bailey and the sign..cracks me up! Congrats on the training! And 8 mile run for warm up? Dang!