Run Away Dog!
This weekend we took Smash for a hike at the Walls Of Jericho State Park in Alabama. This is a seven mile round trip hike with over 1,000 feet elevation change.
Smash did great on his leash the whole trip. He loved meeting the other people along the way and got lots of attention. Many people did not even notice his leg until they looked closer. Some people thought he had hurt it along the trail because they did not notice it the first time they saw him.
He behaved very well with the other dogs along the trail as well. There was even one unfriendly dog and Smash walked calmly by with just a little snub.
When we got back to the Jeep, we were all very tired. I helped Smash up into the back of the Jeep while I changed shoes. He curled up behind me so Janice took his leash off.
While I was massaging my feet, I felt him move and jump down. I expected him to wander around the Jeep while we got ready to go. Instead he went slinking across the parking lot.
I was a bit concerned because there was a very busy highway across the parking lot. I whistled for him to return, but he ignored me. I assumed he need to go potty.
I quickly put on my shoes and called for him more. He just kept going. He headed for the woods by the road. We all ran across the parking lot to try to herd him in.
He then turned and headed back down the mountain toward the river. Janice ran after him.
Jennifer and I circled around to try to find them as they went out of sight.
Jennifer and I met up of the trail about a quarter mile from the parking area and started asking other hikers if they had seen our dog or Janice. Most said they had seen both, but not together.
I kept visualizing having Smash sitting by my side and me petting him. Suddenly Jennifer spotted him in the woods. I quickly sat down and whistled for him. Jennifer sat down as well. As soon as he saw us he ran to Jennifer who quickly leashed him up. We sat and petted him for a while and told him he was a good dog for coming to us.
Then we started looking for Janice. We got concerned when the string of returning hikers stopped reporting seeing her. One of the hikers offered to help us look for her.
He eventually found her coming back up the trail and let her know we had the dog.
My next training with Smash will be the instant recall. This story has a happy ending but it could have been bad if he had gone on toward the road.
I am reminded how important dog training is to the safety of the dog and the trainer. Being in the woods looking for him after dark would not have been safe in those surroundings.