Foggy Day

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It was a very foggy day yesterday. I’m used to taking my dogs for a walk in the dark, and I have a good head torch, so it’s no big deal, but fog is a little different. It was so thick yesterday, I could stand on the centre spot of the football field, and I couldn’t see either end or either side of the pitch. I could hear other people walking their dogs (mostly calling for them, because they’d wandered off into the fog), but I didn’t see another sole.

It always reminds me of the Stephen King story “The Mist”, which I think is in the compilation “Skeleton Crew”[GoodReads]. There was also a reasonable movie made of the story a few years back, which is worth a watch (see below).

It actually got thicker during the morning, and hung around all day. I’ll be out there again, when you read this on another dog walk.

How Not To “Walk” Your Dog

When I was on my morning dog walk I saw something, that sadly I see more frequently than I would like.

A car pulled up next to the playing field, and one of it’s doors opened and out jumped a dog – I was a little distance away but it looked like a boxer, although I couldn’t be sure – which promptly dashed across the service road on to the playing field and towards a group of seagulls that were resting / feeding. The gulls immediately took off the moment they saw the dog coming and circled around looking for a place to land. The dog was still trying to chase them or pursue the stragglers that had called it’s bluff and were still on the ground.

The dogs “owner” was still in the car while this was happening.

Eventually she got out of the car, and walked onto the field. The field is pretty muddy at the moment, and I’m wearing wellingtons, and still get splashes of mud above the top of my boots on my jeans. She was wearing white trainers.

She pulled her phone from her pocket and stood on the edge of the field while her dog continued to chase seagulls, and then decided to take a dump.

I could almost see what was going to happen next. When she saw that her dog was doing his business she started to look around. Now I might be being judgemental, but I’ve seen this behaviour a number of times. It’s the:

“can anyone see what my dog is doing because I really don’t want to have to pick it up look”

Unfortunately I was there, and she could see me, so reluctantly, it seemed, she went and picked up behind her dog and put it in the dog bin (not 10 metres away).

After about 2 minutes of standing checking her Facebook or whatever she was doing on her phone she obviously decided that it was time to go, and she called her dog and started back to her car.

Her dog however had other ideas, and wouldn’t come to her, he ran straight past, and across the service road, away from her. Every time she tried to go near him, he jinked and went in another direction. I didn’t see how this played out but it looked as if it was going to go on for a while.

This is obviously not the way to walk a dog.

Firstly you need to be present, don’t just put your dog out of your car and either stay in the car or stand around looking at your phone. You need to know what’s going on. What your dog is doing, who else is around and what they (and they’re dogs) are doing. This was also right by a service road, which although quiet early in the morning, does get busy quickly and there is quite a bit of traffic even at that time of the day.

Secondly if you can’t pick up your own dogs faeces with a bag, then you probably shouldn’t even have a dog.

Thirdly; letting you dog chase birds isn’t great. It teaches bad behaviour, and although the dog obviously found it fun, when the “game” was over, the dog didn’t think so and wouldn’t come. Often birds like this are resting or feeding, and it takes an awful lot of energy to get airborne and fly away. It’s better to give them as wide a berth as you can. Persistent behaviour by dog owners like this is one way to get dogs banned from some public spaces. Don’t be selfish.

Fourthly; if your dog has this much energy it probably needs more exercise than you’ve just given it. Now maybe you’ll take him out for another walk later on today. That’s great if so, but it didn’t feel like this person would be doing that. Dogs need exercise. Every day. Depending on the dog, some need a lot. Think hard about this before committing to owning a dog.

Now of course I could be completely wrong about all of the above, and I might be stereotyping a lady who is just looking after someones dog for them while they’re away, sick or unable to do it themselves for a while, and doing the best she can, but unfortunately I see this sort of behaviour frequently and it makes me disappointed that it happens at all.

Planning a Mini-Adventure

2016-05-17 13.08.38Work has been quiet this week, so I thought I’d take myself and the dogs off on a little trip perhaps tomorrow or Friday.

A few weeks ago we walked a very short bit of the Titchfield Canal, but looking at the map there’s an approx 4km round trip we can do. So the plan is, that if the weather stays reasonable, i.e. not too wet or too hot; we’re going to give that route a go. It looks to be fairly flat and not too taxing, so should be a good trip. Something different.

Leap Day Wildlife

I started the leap day off right with a buzzard sighting at the Fort. One (large) buzzard flew overhead as I was walking the dogs this morning, pursued by 2 crows. Strangely all 3 birds were silent, and if I hadn’t been looking at the time, I probably would have missed them.

Normally the crows call out and harass a buzzard they are trying to drive away, so that it draws attention to what they perceive as the interloper.

The buzzard gracefully slipped through the upper branches of the trees to shake off it’s pursuers.

A few steps later, I also saw some fresh deer prints in the mud, another good sign.

Dog Toy Balls, Some You Find, Some You Loose. OR, How I Fell On My Bum in the Woods

2015-11-09 08.43.44I have two ball obsessed dogs, they love to chase balls whenever we go out for a walk. To be honest it’s great exercise for them, but can occasionally be a little hard on my pocket when we loose balls in the bushes or long grass.

A few weeks ago I bought two new balls for Ruby. She’s particularly fussy about what she will and won’t play with, and so the new ones were of a particular type that she likes. Bright orange and they have a slightly unpredictable bounce, thus making the game a bit of fun.

Within the first week, I lost one of these balls in a bramble bush on one of our regular walking routes. That unpredictable bounce can be a killer when it comes to keeping track of where they end up. We looked for a quite a while, I knew it was in the bramble bush somewhere but I just couldn’t see it, nor could Ruby find it. Eventually we gave it up for lost. Sometimes you just have to accept loosing one, normally the ratio of balls lost to balls found is quite constant, but in this case I think this was about the third one I’d lost between Wilson and Ruby in a week, so my account was way in deficit.

Anyway; skip forward to this morning. We were on the same route and I had the other ball of the pair with me, as well as a different one for Wilson. Once again I threw the ball for Ruby, and it bounced and landed in the same bloody bramble bush as the last one! I thought probably we’d lost that one too, but as I looked into the brambles I could see it, although I couldn’t actually reach it from where I was standing. The bush is on a slope and I had to walk down the slope slightly, and use the ball launcher to extract the ball from within the brambles, being very careful not to scratch myself in the process.

As I was reaching in I also spotted something else – the other ball that we’d lost weeks ago. Feeling pretty chuffed with myself, thinking that we were going to retrieve not only the ball that had landed in the brambles this morning, but also the one that we’d lost in their weeks ago, I got the recent lost ball out and gave it back to Ruby.

I changed position on the slope and reached in to the brambles with the ball launcher once again. I had to stretch to reach the ball, and in doing so was leaning on an old (and somewhat rotten as I was about to find out) tree trunk.

As I managed to scoop the ball up with the launcher there was a loud crack and the tree I was leaning on gave way, I managed to get enough momentum up from the trunk of the tree, but in doing so overbalanced and fell backwards – fortunately away from the bramble bush, but I did end up on my bum in the mud. Ruby did come and check I was okay.

Apart from my pride there were no injuries – and I had the lost ball from a couple of weeks ago, so I returned to the path triumphant, or at least I tried to. My wellies however couldn’t get a grip on the muddy bank and I couldn’t get back up the slope down which I’d come. In the end I did a slight detour and rejoined the path (and my dogs who were waiting for me, they have four wheel drive and couldn’t work out why I was having such problems getting up the slope).

Taking inventory I made sure I hadn’t lost anything in my fall, e.g. phone, housekeys etc. All was well, apart from the fact that we didn’t have the ball that we’d lost that morning. I had the other one in my coat pocket, but in all the fuss of my falling over and trying to get back up the bank, we’d re-lost the ball that had gone in the bramble bush moments earlier.

I sent Ruby down to look for it, but she just ran up and down the bank and didn’t manage to find it. Resigning ourselves to finding an old lost ball but loosing another one, we carried on with our walk.

2015-11-09 08.43.55I wasn’t going to be defeated however, and as we returned I decided to have one final look for the ball. I looked down the slope, but couldn’t see it. It’s surprising sometimes how something bright orange doesn’t show up against the autumn leaf fall.

I decided one last ditch attempt was in order and sent Wilson in. “Find the ball!” I told him. He went down the bank exactly to the spot where I’d fallen, and started casting around searching. Then his tail started to wag. Soon it was going like a helicopter rotor. He was on to something. Of course this could just be something good to eat, but on the other hand I was expectant that we might find the missing ball.

Whatever he’d found it seemed to be under the tree trunk, that I had so unceremoniously managed to fell earlier, but he couldn’t quite reach it. He tried one side and then hopped over and tried the other, but whatever it was he couldn’t reach it. Eventually he tried the old commando technique of getting right down on his belly and crawling underneath, and out he came with the missing ball in his mouth!

Queue loads of praise from me, and dog biscuits for Wilson and Ruby. We went home triumphant.

So some days you loose a ball and sometimes you find one (or even one that you lost some weeks ago)!

Deer, Oh Deer

Walking the Fort
Walking the Fort

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about not seeing deer on my way to work in the mornings. I’ve been on “leave” the last couple of weeks, my official last day in my current job is tomorrow, which has obviously given me more time to take longer morning walks with the dogs.

This morning we were on our way around the fort when I heard something crashing through the bottom of “the moat”. Being Summer the vegetation is now green and lush, and it is difficult to see any distance, but I did glimpse the bouncing white tails of two Roe Deer. I’ve seen deer here before, but not that often as there are just too many people about. We’d obviously spooked them, and they weren’t hanging around, but it’s good to know that I still might see deer in the mornings.