The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew... - Robert Burns
Sparkle and I have returned from a trip that was epic, but not quite as planned. She was an amazing trail warrior for conditions that were significantly harder than we had imagined due to cold, wet weather and beaver activity that created lots of flooding.
Still, we accomplished much, completing about 3/4 of the mileage, starting out in Wanakena, traveling counter-clockwise, making it as far as Brandy Brook. On our final day, we covered about 20 miles so that I could get us close to an exit point if need be.
A turn in the weather from cold to colder and wetter when we were already soaked meant an early end. I was prepared for that possibility and was able to call in help when needed. The body handling work that I did came in handy as I did have to move her around to position her under an emergency blanket and then into the back of a ranger's ATV for our trip out.
Highlights of the trip included surviving a narrow, wobbly, 50 foot log crossing over hip deep water, making camp in a lean-to with some aging hippies while Sparkle dug holes and played with a tennis ball she found, and spending an entire day in a motel room afterwards sleeping (each in our own beds), recovering before the trip back home. Unfortunately, all of our pictures were lost during our evacuation, but we're happy to be safe.
As a result of the training process and the trip, Sparkle and I have a stronger relationship. She is better at being handled and at traveling. She is more physically fit. She was able to warm up to strangers on the trail after initial caution and even played fetch with one! I now have a plan of the next things to work on, which are around helping her respond to sudden environmental changes. Hopefully, I have given people food for thought about some of the things involved in a trip like this and that you have enjoyed following our journey, however short it ended up being. Thank you. - Lowell and Sparkle
Angela and Lowell, your friendly Harmony Dog Trainers!