So the last while the weather around here has been pretty miserable. It's bounced from cold and windy to warm and raining to wet snow, but yesterday the sky was blue the temps cold but pleasant with a nice little skiff of fresh snow on the ground - a pretty perfect day to be out running dogs actually.
I took care of a few tasks in the morning and then headed out with 16 dogs around 10;30am. I messed around a bit with leaders in the first few miles but eventually with Q and Wifi up front the team began to roll nicely and the miles started to click by.
We ran along the highway ditch and then hooked up with one of my favorite trails that drops down into the river valley coming out near the cemetery. As we were just about to the cemetery we came across a car parked in the middle of the trail. The elderly driver was wearing blaze orange and munching on a sandwich as the dogs veered around the car and trucked on by. The driver and I waved.
As I was stopped nearby watering dogs, the elderly man drove out of the woods, got out of his car and headed into the cemetery. He walked around a bit before coming out and taking a few steps towards the team. He seemed very leery of the dogs, so I headed over to him to chat. Turns out he was raised in the valley. His grandmother was one of the first buried in the Perryvale cemetery (and actually the tombstone that Hilda and Olena almost knocked over a couple years back - but I didn't tell him that). It was very interesting to stand and chat with him, but soon the dogs began to kick up a fuss and it was time for me to get going.
The dogs had enjoyed their break and careened down the road and across the bridge into Perryvale. I tied the leaders off to my usual "Call before you dig" post and zipped in to pick up the mail and grab a liter of chocolate milk for lunch. After a quick chat with Rhonda and a glance at the notice board, it was back to the dogs and on the road again.
Many uneventful miles later we were up along a very remote gravel road that eventually turns into the Landing Trail when a truck came around a bend and stopped dead. The dogs were over on the far right of the road, so there was room for the driver to pass, but he just idled there. I was puzzled. When the driver threw the truck in reverse and started speeding backwards along the road, I was more puzzled. Then it hit me, this was the folks that lived just a ways up the road, they have never seen the dogs here before and they were worried that they yard dogs, a big 'Cricket-like' creature and a collie, were going to be a problem. Sure enough the truck swerved backwards into the yard, the doors flung open, the drivers jumped out and began trying to round up their dogs. They were slipping and sliding and the dogs by now had realized the team was coming and had no intention of getting caught. As I passed the driveway, they were trying in vain to stuff the dogs into their garage. Once my team was past the driveway, I stopped. The woman was frantically waving her arms at me and yelling 'GO, GO' - obviously unaware that I pass by there several times a week without any issues with her dogs. 'They are fine", I yelled and she looked at me like I was crazy. "Really I pass by here all the time. Don't worry!! But thanks" I called. The Great Pyr ran out, barked a few times at the team, which just stood there and then headed back to the yard. I called out and off we went, leaving two very baffled dog owners behind.
I whistled along to Kid Rock on my iPod (Mark's actually, mine went missing this spring) as we traveled the old Landing Trail, eventually hooking up with the roads again. As we dropped down near Meanook, a short, handicapped styled bus went by. I swung south and next thing I knew the bus was right behind me honking. The driver passed and then pulled over and stopped in front of the team. The doors opened and 20 + people piled out. Turns out they were a group from the Alberta TrailNet Society touring the valley and looking at the Landing Trail area. A number of the folks knew me and there was alot of handshaking, question asking and chatter about the local trails (which I utilize pretty well!). It was great timing and I was happy to take the time to chat with them.
One of the ladies pointed out that X was carrying something in his mouth and I went over to investigate. Turns out he was packing a half rotten coyote skull. Nice X - that'll impress the politicians! I tried to discreetly wrestle his prize from him and then went to toss it far into the ditch. It caught on my glove and sailed straight up in the air. Luckily, no one was hit as it plummeted to the ground, I quickly retrieved it and got it into the ditch with this throw. I made a big point of taking off my gloves so no one would be grossed out by shaking hands with me now.
We chatted a bit more before everyone piled back onto the bus and they headed back to Meanook. The dogs and I went a mile or so down the road and pulled into Lisa's for a 2 hour coffee break before we began the jaunt home.
We pulled back into the yard around 6pm. Chris had dinner ready for the dogs. We fed and then tucked everyone in for the night.
Ah, a good day at 'the office'.