I’m back home from our mountain hiking weekend and have to admit, unwillingly, that the summer is coming to an end. There are – count them – five more days till I have to be back at work. So I am happy to be able to write about something . . . new, something . . . that never was before, which happened over the weekend.
To backtrack a bit first, we have had Dog Four for two years now and I have become convinced that this girl simply never sleeps. At least I have never witnessed it. There was that drug-induced, post-operative slumber once, but that doesn’t really count. No matter how late I stay up, she is always alert and ready to go whenever I change positions. It’s like she has to wait until the entire herd is tucked away for the night before she can rest. It must be her Border Collie blood.
This weekend we took her along on our hiking vacation. (Dog Three, being too old and weak, had to stay behind with the house sitter.) During our first tour, Dog Four proved herself to be the best hiking dog we have ever had (including the infallible Dog One!) There were twelve kids ranging from three to 14 years old in the group and she was fabulous with all of them. She never strayed more than 10 meters from us and came instantly when we called her. She greeted other hikers in a friendly way and was cordial to their dogs. She had a good time. Best vacation of her life.
The final tour on the third day was an ambitious one – long and with one steep rocky section. I listened to the description of the route and decided to pass. I don’t mind steep climbs, but steep descents scare me – mostly because of one particularly painful past experience when my knees betrayed me halfway down the mountain. So I stayed back and did cabin-sitting while the others did the tour, happy to get regular WhatsApp pictures of their progress throughout the day. Here’s the one from the highest point:
Did I feel a tinge of regret as I looked at this picture on my cell phone? Did I sort of wish I was there? Yes, of course. But then, there is something to be said for knowing your own limitations, for deciding to forego pain and to age gracefully.
But then again, I quickly set off on a little hike of my own – ostensibly to look for mushrooms. About 15 minutes into it (around the time I encountered the first free range cow and realized I didn’t have my trusty walking stick with me) I discovered that hiking wasn’t nearly as fun without a dog in tow. I turned back toward the cabin.
The group returned around dinnertime generally enthusiastic about the day. Dog Four ran into the house and basically launched herself into my face. Then she ran around nervously trying to figure out where the center of the action was. Some of hikers headed for the showers, some of them for a bit of rest in their beds, some still had the energy to start a campfire and prepare extra dishes for the dinner. Eventually, we all ended up in the kitchen of one of the cabins eating up a smorgasbord of leftovers, freshly fried mushrooms, vegetable medley, and cold pork roast.
And then it happened.
In between the two tables, surrounded by the din of 10 loud jovial adults and 12 loud rambunctious kids, all of us eating, Dog Four lay down and . . . for once . . . just let go.
Here she is.