Rory and I took a long walk this morning.


Yesterday everything thawed when the high was over 50 degrees, only to refreeze as the temperature dropped nearly to the single digits.


The nearly snow-less ground today.
Nearly snow-less ground today
Snow on the ground two days ago.Two days ago.


It’s important to tell you about my walks. I don’t like traveling the same roads again and again. I love circular walks, new walks, walks filled with adventure and new sights. However, the neighborhood in which we live wasn’t made for circuitous rambles. So, I usually find myself trekking through the woods at some point rather than turn around and retrace my steps.


I’ve never heard leaves crackle underfoot quite like this. The thaw yesterday left them damp and they refroze, so each step was like the breaking of a hundred tiny sticks.


Today I decided on a new journey I was hoping would work. Our neighborhood is bordered by a beach and I was fairly certain a new route would take me down to one part of the beach. That should  connect to the beach in my area thus I could probably walk from one part of the neighborhood to the other.


At the end of the road I stepped into the woods.


As I walked down through trees, I came upon this:




With the choice to cross the river or walk back up through the woods and retrace my steps I, of course, decided to find a spot to cross the river.


Unfortunately it only widened itself to either side as far as I could travel. There were brambles that kept me from moving in either direction.


I nearly turned around.


And then Rory took a step.





He didn’t fall in, so I investigated the ice (I have never claimed to make particularly good decisions). Luckily I am here to tell you about it instead of…  I don’t know what.


I crossed safely, and we found the river opened up into a tidal pond.





We tramped through the woods and headed to the beach. On the way I found a bridge over the river beyond the brambles.




At the beach, I saw a sight I’d never seen before. Ice, floating on the Chesapeake Bay.




Keep Your Dog Happy!

Recently I decided my dogs needed to get out  more without driving miles and wasting gas and time. I was sure I could find them something new right in our backyard. I used a search engine to look for local parks and paths that allowed dogs. During my search I came across a group called Columbia Dogs-on-the-Go. This local meetup group is for dog owners and their dogs to socialize and exercise together. I loved the idea and joined up.


Rory in the water at a Columbia Dogs-on-the-Go meetup spot

Going green includes family pets, and it isn’t all about the right food and shampoo. Most dogs need to stay active, and taking them on walks is key. A green dog walk is nearby, requiring little to no driving. It means picking up after your dog and if possible, composting the waste. Keeping your dog walk green also includes not littering, recycling your waste, and bringing reusable water bottles to keep you hydrated.

Dogs are naturally pack animals and most are ecstatic in a group with other dogs. Although many dogs include their humans in their pack, spending time with other dogs is fun for most of our pet dogs. Even though Canis lupus familiaris has been domesticated for about 15,000 years, dogs still retain some of their wild behaviors and social hierarchy.  Bored dogs tend to be behavior problems, so keeping a dogs happy and engaged is a boon for both the dog and the owner.


A picture from our walk by a fellow Columbia Dogs-on-the-Go member Amy Pickwick

The group I joined has frequent walks and events; right now they seem to average once per week. There are events at dog-friendly businesses and after work and weekend walks. On our first walk we met at a local lake and used the path around it to walk for nearly an hour. Abby brought her tricycle and Chuck walked Rory and I took Blue while pushing Abby. It was the first time Rory and Blue had walked with other dogs. Both dogs got along with all of the other dogs, and Rory actually calmed down a little bit and stopped pulling hard near the end; Blue is only a year old but is much better on the leash than Rory and rarely pulls unless we are running.

The walk was great! There were small dogs and big dogs, young dogs and old dogs. Almost 18 people attended and just about as many dogs. We had a number of people on the path ask about such a large group walking with dogs, and the organizers of Columbia Dogs-on-the-Go are looking into bandannas and t-shirts to advertise the group to encourage more people to join.


Rory and a new friend at a Columbia Dogs-on-the-Go meetup. Picture also by Amy Pickwick

If you are a dog owner, I encourage you to look for similar groups in your area. If you don’t find one, start one! The exercise and socializing is good for both humans and adults and it is a great chance to meet new people. Still unsure? Show your dog his leash and his tail wagging will convince you!