To introduce available dog companions to you, through hiking experiences with the canines from Stray Rescue in St. Louis. All of these dogs are great as outdoor partners for anyone who loves to hike, backpack, trail run, whatever!
The dogs travel with me to trails in all four directions. They come in colors of black, red, white and yellow, which happen to be the colors representing the four cardinal directions of N,S,E, and W, in American Indian culture. [Thus the name Four Directions :)]
BLUE, The Master Hiker
Monday, December 6, 2010
THE BEAUTY OF CHANGE
This is Carlos:
This is Carlos.
He arrived at Stray Rescue in the summer of 2009.
This is a little of his story.
No one really knows most of it,
but Carlos definitely did not have to SAY anything.
The staff and volunteers of Stray Rescue had
a good idea of what his life was like before arriving in the U.S.
Besides, his behavior said it all.
Completely broken, empty of hope, and a face that
showed fear and pain, he had signs indicating
use in dogfighting. His ears were poorly cropped with a rope.
His beautiful brindle-furred body showed scars typical of fighting.
Thanks to a tenacious rescuer in Oman
and her connection to Best Friends Network in Kanab, UT,
this massively built pit bull terrier was taken over 10,000 miles
through three airports, encompassing efforts over
about a year of time. He was supposed
to be euthanized per command of the royal council in Oman,
but instead he was secretly saved from death,
never to be part of the nightmare of dog fighting again.
He landed in Memphis, and was driven to St. Louis
thanks to more devoted humans. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So, the first time I gaze at him in his apartment at Pine
--just inside the front door--
I become both mesmerized by as well as apprehensive of
this quiet, withdrawn, perhaps frightening creature.
He lies retreated in the very back on his cot--head up--watching me
--and other than his chest rising slowing with each breath,
he is motionless. His roomate lies in the cot across from him,
still as well, but she looks comfortable and unafraid.
The only information I have is that he does not do well on walks
and very few people can get close to him. I meet Ben (SR volunteer) soon after that,
when he was standing at Carlos' apartment door (one of many times he visits).
Ben has become a close companion of Carlos.
You can see the bond between them like a wide river.
I learn Carlos is quite fearful of strange noises,
men and assorted other things typical of dogs that have undergone
Then I get this message that Randy wants to hike (FINALLY!)
and wants to bring----Carlos. Ben will join us, he says. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The beginning of the our first hike with Carlos
It was the beginning of the end, as far as I am concerned.
Not only did he hike, though with evidence of uncertainty,
he dealt with some unexpected events, like a long,
loud freight train just feet away (for about 5 minutes!)
and several cyclists whizzing by without warning.
Six unfamiliar dogs and six unfamiliar humans in front of him. See, Carlos chose the rear of our entourage early in the hike,
but he did eventually move forward, and began to
BLEND in with the rest of us.
Ben at his side, always.
He actually started to shed layers of stress--
sort of relaxing some of those tight shoulder muscles.
His eyes seemed to have more life, too.
He even let me nearly pet him!
(I didn't have any peanut butter-the secret method to please Carlos)
And near the end, Carlos and Ben, well, just look below...
Carlos and Ben RAN through the field!
Completely free of any concern, in the warm sun
a soft breeze on their faces.
Then we all went back.
And Carlos slept well.
The following week, he was more "bouncy" on the walks around the neighborhood.
He seemed to want to interact with different humans.
Just appeared to be....
So we went again this past weekend, smaller group, but same idea.
Guess where Carlos was in the hiking line-up?
(Don't guess LAST)
The rest of us just followed behind much of the time.