Can’t Win for Losin’… Poor Jake. Poor Jake’s Mom.

So I’ve been hiking with the good boy, right?

Because the hubs is in my comfy bed with ice on his knee, right?

I hike at, what is for me, a snail’s pace. Uphill is hard. Downhill is a bitch.

Jake has been amazing. He gets that I can’t go fast. He keeps a steady pace, and if he gets ahead of me on a downhill slope, he stops, sits and stays. Waits for me to catch up.

He’s also been helping me out by wearing a backpack so he can carry stuff upstairs to the hubster. He’s getting really good at it. Saves me a trip every once in a while.

Jake backpack

I’ve been sticking to the flatter wilderness park, doing maybe two miles twice a day. Occasionally I do an attenuated hike at the hilly park (have some pics for you later), but like I said, coming downhill is sort of killer. I have to zig-zag my way across the path if I have the space. If the path is narrow Jake stays behind me so I can see my footing. Can’t risk a misstep.

So I’ve been getting some, well,¬†merde¬†recently. Let me tell you about it.

I decided to take Jake to the flatter park around dusk. Less likely to run into hordes of other dogs because, as you know, I cannot risk a knee-capping. Jake and I got out of the car and headed to the on-leash side of the park. The trails are nice and level and I can warm my knee up before we climb to the higher area. Jake’s been great. I’m using his extendable leash as opposed to his working leather leash. This way he can get out in front of me, do a little exploring, sniff a few bushes. He’s happy, I’m happy. Pulling hasn’t been an issue- except for once and you’ll hear about that shortly.

So we meandered around, climbed up through a ravine– all on leash by the way– reached the higher section of the park, walked up what we call Horse Hill and down the shallow side, along the Vineyard Trail, and headed to the off-leash area where he could have some free time and I could throw his rubber ball for him. We encountered nary a soul.

There were a few people and a few dogs in the off-leash area, a handful at best. One couple had lost their dog in the vineyard and I was able to tell them where he was because Jake immediately spotted him and wanted to chase after him, but he was a good boy and came back to me when I called.

The sun had set and it was growing pretty dark, but the ball is glow-in-the-dark, remember, plus Jake has a great sense of smell, so we hung out for about 20 minutes playing a game of throw and fetch.

At last I decided to head back to the main road– can’t take the trail, too steep, but I can walk down the gravel road. I tossed his ball backwards a few times as we walked along the trail towards the road and at last I said, “Okay Jake, we’re going to the car. Time for your leash.” At which point he sat at my side and waited for me to connect his leash. Because that’s what good boys do.

I glanced up and noticed a woman walking her two dogs, off leash, about thirty yards in front of us. She was on a trail perpendicular to the trail on which I stood. So I decided to just wait and let her pass. I had to cross that trail to get to the road and I didn’t feel like disconnecting Jake’s leash simply so he could greet her dogs. He sat at my side like a perfect angel because I’d told him to sit/stay. He showed no interest in either the woman or her dogs. No big deal. We could wait a minute or two.

Here’s the other thing- cuz yeah, there is another thing. She was on a trail that overlooks the highway. Now it’s a quarter-mile from the highway but still it overlooks the highway. Jake hates cars. He would, if he could, chase cars and get himself killed. So we always leash him before he can see the highway. Most dog walkers allow their dogs to run down to the parking lot– which I find annoying and, frankly, unsafe. I’ve nearly backed over unsupervised dogs. Besides, the drive out of the parking lot opens directly onto the highway. Duh. However, it’s none of my business. I keep my mouth shut.

My dog, however, is my business. I do what I do with my dog– whatever it takes to keep my dog safe, and because he is a German shepherd, whatever it takes to be respectful of other people. Jake is friendly but most people are intimidated by the mere sight of a German shepherd. Jake is my third German shepherd. It’s just fact. I know this. So I am always polite and respectful and if anyone seems disconcerted at the sight of such a big dog, I leash him as a courtesy– more on that later too!

Instead of continuing her walk, the woman stopped.

“This is the off-leash area,” she called out.

Me– “Yeah? So?”

Her– “So let him off leash.”

Me– WTF??? “No.”

Her– “Why not?”

Me– Holy shite, lady, what is your problem? “Because…”

Her– “Well maybe he wants to meet my dogs.”

Me– “Well maybe I want him on leash right now.”

Her– “Well if you have a mean dog I know two trainers up near Windsor and they can train your dog in three months.”

Me– OMG, lady, shut up and move your ass. “I don’t have a mean dog.”

Her– “Well I still don’t see…”

Me– I do not have to explain a single thing to you, ya friggin’ idiot. “What I do with my dog is none of your business. Okay?”

Her– “Hummph!”

But at least she finally moved along. Jay-sus! Meanwhile the other folks managed to get their dog out of the vineyard and they were walking him on leash on a trail parallel to me. I heard one of them say, “Christ. What’s her problem?”

So Jake and I hiked down the road. There were three cars in the parking lot. Mine, and I put Jake in the back, the car belonging to the people who’d retrieved their dog from the vineyard, and they were already backing out, and the car belonging to Ms. Inappropriate. She’d already loaded her dogs into her car. Apparently she’d waited for me because she pulled up right next to me and said–

“Excuse me. I’m sorry to bother you, but you really should talk to the trainers in Windsor. They’ve saved all sorts of vicious dogs from euthanasia. They could work wonders with your dog, you know, the dogs that bite people and have three strikes against them.”

Me– “First of all, I don’t have a vicious dog. Second, why on earth would you assume I have a vicious dog?”

Her– “Well you had him on leash in the off-leash area…”

Me– “So? People leash their dogs in the off-leash area all the time.”

Her– “Well…”

Me– “Well, what? I have my reasons and frankly, my reasons are none of your damn business. I don’t owe you an explanation. I don’t even know why I’m giving you the courtesy of talking to you now.”

She huffed again and I got in my car and drove away. I was so angry. First because she assumed Jake was a vicious dog simply because he’s a German shepherd and second because she thought it was her business to tell me what to do with my dog and third because she imposed upon me– made me feel like I owed her an explanation when I didn’t owe her a damn thing. My dog had done nothing but sit by my side like a little furry angel. What on earth was there to complain about?

So of course I told hubby all about it. All about it. And he was just as indignant as I was.

The next morning I got up early and took Jake back to the same park. Our first stop was the fenced (empty at this time of the morning) dog enclosure so Jake could work off some of his insane morning energy by chasing his ball. Just as we were ready to leave the enclosure and head up to the off-leash area I saw this big mastiff arrive with his owner. This mastiff hates Jake. Every time he sees him he attacks him. But, since his owner is an older man and he can only do one loop around the off-leash area I figured Jake and I would head to the other side, the on-leash area, and by the time we reached the off-leash area, the mastiff would be gone. Brilliant. Problem solved.

Sort of.

In the mornings Jake is effusive. He’s insanely energetic and he really wants to run. And of course, in the mornings, there is game around. So there we were on a flat trail and out pops a rabbit. Jake lunged after the rabbit and dragged me for a few feet before I could get him under control. I brought him back to me but the stupid rabbit turned and ran in our direction so Jake lunged for him again. So I says…

“Damn it, Jake. Get your ass back here!” And I smacked him on the rump with his ball. You see, I was holding the ball thrower. Then I made him heel and I used the ball thrower to tap him on the butt whenever he tried to go after the rabbit – a gentle reminder. Seriously– it’s a rubber ball and a thin plastic ball thrower. And by a tap I mean a light tap.

Picture this – he’s heeling on my left. In my right hand is the ball thrower and I’m holding it behind me on my right. I swing it around and tap him on his right hip if he starts to tug on me. It’s a training technique my daughter uses with horses as well so you’re not in their face freaking them out all the time.

Suddenly I hear this voice–

“You don’t have to hit him.”

OMG. Please tell me it’s not her.

It wasn’t her, but it was this woman with whom I am somewhat familiar. She owns a female yellow lab, a very sweet dog, who would love to play with Jake but who is not allowed any contact with any other dog. The woman always walks the lab off leash in the on-leash area and she calls ahead when she sees me coming and asks me to move off the trail because, as I said, her dog is not allowed any contact with other dogs. In three years I have always obliged her without a single complaint, even though it is illegal to walk your dog off leash in that area. I have never ever admonished her for doing so. I’ve never once said, “Put your dog on leash,” or “Screw you. Take a different trail.” A. I’m polite and B. I’m not the police.

I looked at her. I said, “Mind your own business.”

“Yeah, but you don’t have to hit him.”

I really didn’t feel like explaining – I had knee surgery five weeks ago and when he lunged after that rabbit it hurt like hell and he could have injured me and by God all I did was give him a quick smack with a rubber ball on his big furry rump. It’s not like he even noticed.

The look she shot me said– You are an abuser. I should call the Humane Society on you.

Jake was perfect for the rest of the hike, but she’d ruined my day. I told Oscar– I can’t win for losing.

Oh! Oh! Oh! One more thing about that morning– So when Jake and I were on the Vineyard Trail I heard a runner coming behind us. As I always do, because nobody appreciates a German shepherd nose in his/her crotch, I moved off to the side of the narrow trail and had Jake sit/stay. The runner, a woman, was so impressed that she said, “He’s just the best boy. He’s so pretty! Can I pet him?”

And sure, I let her pet him. And then she went on her merry way and we went on our merry way. So when I was walking to the parking lot maybe thirty minutes later I saw her running down the trail opposite. She was passing a man with a dog off leash (in the on-leash area), a dog Jake does not like. Now Jake was on leash and heeling and the dog was maybe fifty yards away so he ignored her. Well, this dog began to bark at the runner, then chased after her, jumped on her and bit her and the owner just kept on a-walkin’. The runner stopped, totally flabbergasted. I went over to make sure she was okay. She was, but she could not believe the owner didn’t even apologize. He completely ignored the situation. His dog is some sort of small sheep dog. Not a Bernese Mountain dog but maybe a Swiss Mountain dog?

Let me tell you, if Jake had done that, because he’s a German shepherd, a hue and cry would have gone up so loud and so vitriolic that Tom Stronach would have heard it all the way in Wessex!

Here are some photos of our hilly hike – FYI – I only climbed a third of the way to the summit. No worries, Jaye.

Jake's feet and wild iris.

Jake’s feet and wild iris.

Wild iris.

Wild iris.

A third of the way to the summit.

A third of the way to the summit.

Crossing the saddle.

Crossing the saddle.







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22 Responses to Can’t Win for Losin’… Poor Jake. Poor Jake’s Mom.

  1. Fran Lee says:

    Have Jake carry a sandwich board over his back that reads “The end is coming…mouth off about my dog or the way I handle him and I won’t let you onto the last off-world shuttle. Have a wonderful day.”

  2. Hiya Fran! Great idea! Working on it now! :P

  3. Tom Stronach says:

    Jey-soos woman, I thought you were writing a rival to gone with the bloody wind there ( hangs head slightly – never seen it – but heard it is long boring and tedious) and then I get a mention at the very end…. Jey-soos…..

    Just a couple of points:

    1. All dogs should be on a bloody leash all the time unless they are running after your horse on the SIL/daughters cattle ranch but not chasing the pretty cows
    2. No dog should ever need to be muzzled, cos they should always be on a leash and therefore under strict control
    3. Most owners should be permanently muzzled BUT NOT YOU COS I LOVE YOU but then again if I EVER GET CLOSE TO YOUR BUTT AGAIN A MUZZLE MIGHT BE A GOOD IDEA, TO STOP YOU SNAPPING AT ME COS ITS SO CUTE I JUST WANT TO, WELL YOU KNOW…… Oscar would forgive me, just once…… Particularly the tart with the yellow FEMALE Lab .. hey, wait wasn’t that sexist didn’t I SEE SOMEONE WRITE ABOUT THAT SOMEWHERE????????
    4. Thanks for the back pack idea going to the mall now see if I can get one to fit Ishbel

    oh and did I tell you I killed the car this week but managed to get it to a safe place off the highway, we survived and that bloody wife said, you OK , I said Yes she said good promptly phoned a taxi and got in it and left me at the side of the road to continue on to visit Mollie, Shannon and Lacey Mae , you think 38 yrs of marriage and the fact that I am already bloody dying would have got me a bit more than that, sheesh ……

  4. Jaye says:

    Well, Julia, I sort of approve. You seem to have found the sweet spot between insane hummingbird and slothful sloth. Next, methinks, you need to work on your own intimidation factor. A thousand yard stare, the slight cock to your right shoulder that sez, “I have something in my pocket that will hurt you,” and a twitch in your cheek muscles when you stare some nosy noodlehead down. If you can convince people you’re scarier than your GSD, they won’t mess with you.

    Oh, and have you considered a walking stick? Seriously, one with a slight point at the end that you can jam in the earth for support if Jake lunges.

  5. I have to admit we stopped going to dog parks and started walking at night or before dawn anything to avoid the dog park freaks. You know the ones who scream at their dogs in German and ask we do the same, “Platz!!!” The lonely freaks who want to go home with you… “Dog-sitters” who are drunk when they hand out business cards…

  6. I forgot the most uncomfortable one. Alone at lunch hour at the dog park I was approached by a man in a business suit who had a rambunctious almost crazed dog that repeatedly mounted my dog and knocked her to the ground. I asked him to hold his dog back while I got my girl on a leash to leave. He keep following me and standing too close and saying “Your dog is a submissive”, “Your dog wants to be submissive” “That’s vey submissive behavior and it’s natural for your dog” “You should just let her be submissive.” I got my dog on a leash as I was fleeing for my life he asks if I live near by and is my husband home? Yuck! : (

  7. Oh Kat! So creepy! Poor you and your poor dog! Once upon a time, before it was discovered, our dog park was a terrific place to hike with your dog. Not so much now. Sigh… Seems like nothing good lasts.

  8. I used a cane for a week or so, Jaye. It got in my way. He and I did better today– working hard on getting my quad to fire. The lack of a quadriceps muscle causes significant instability. Yeah- I’m gonna work on the cheek muscle twitch. ;)

  9. Oh Tom- Ishbel has it out for you, doesn’t she! ;) I hope you arrived at your destination eventually. Maybe if you get her a backpack you can slow here down. Happy anniversary coming up, by the way!
    Yes, I know how you feel about dogs and leashes. I do agree that if a person cannot keep his/her dog under control the dog should be leashed. Regardless, unless a dog is a threat to people or other animals what I decide to do at the dog park is nobody’s business. I am like… the most responsible dog owner on the planet!
    Feel free. You can be sexist in my blog territory.

  10. I would KILL for the opportunity to go for a walk. BOTH gastrocnimeus (GM – calf -you plural that – I’m not sure I can) muscles are refusing to fire now, the physiatrist/non-surgeon is talking surgery, and I can’t go to tiptoe (or push off normally on a stride) on EITHER side, and it’s driving me CRAZY. I have to get a new MRI, the shots haven’t worked yet (the one leg has been getting them for a year, the other JUST stopped working sometime between Jan. and two weeks ago when I discovered it didn’t work after I fought off the sciatica again). I can’t win for losing.

    Walk for the rest of us – when you talked about your quad not firing I felt such kinship – hope your problem is gone VERY SOON.

    You have such interesting total idiots in your world.

  11. I do run into interesting total idiots, Alicia! Dang, sciatica is bad. Do you know of any amazing physical therapists? When I rehabbed my other knee, after extensive surgery, a wonderful therapist and I created an entirely new program. The standard stuff didn’t work for me.
    I will walk for you- I’ll think about you while I’m out and send good thoughts.

  12. Yeah, the sciatica is bad – but I have MacKenzie exercises, and yoga, and stretches, and I was basically working it out – but I didn’t notice the other problem developing because I wasn’t doing my GM exercises for the right leg – and then the left quits on me while I’m working out the sciatica. No fair!

    I have a creative PT person – former dancer. I have a physiatrist who is into returning normal functioning. I HAD (and didn’t go back to) the surgeon that did the operation that fixed the orginal problem (sort of – but not completely) and left all these other problems. And now I have scar tissue and other problems.

    I thought I was going somewhere positive – and now it’s going backward. I feel like an Imperial Walker looks – all wobbly and uncertain.

    And bodies have an amazing bad habit: if something doesn’t work, they just compensate. They don’t ask first: “Would you like me to mess up your future walking so you don’t have to think about this right now?” So if you’re not really careful, you now have TWO problems.

    I am determined, but this is getting to be Keystone Cops.

    And then there are those Olympic athletes who have had so much surgery they are like jigsaw puzzles – but they work fine and win Gold medals – and I just want me some of THAT medicine. I said that to the physiatrist: “I want rich-people medicine.” He said, “I AM rich-people medicine.” He had better produce. And there isn’t going to be ANY more cutting until I’m SURE all bases have been covered. Unfortunately, with the CFS, it takes me AGES to recover from anything.

    I’ve been reading about your problems with awe that you’re getting everything all fixed – and it works. Keep it up, you and hubby. I know we all gotta go some day, but this is TOO SOON. (Thanks for listening.)

  13. Well, Alicia – sounds like you are trying your best to cover all bases. Challenges become more challenging as we age. Here’s the thing about sports– when you suffer bad injuries, even if you fix them, they tend to come back to bite you as you get older- hit your 40′s. I’ve already had to stop running. Can’t downhill ski any more, altho I can cross country ski, or will be able to again. My days of long-distance bike riding are over. Swimming is wonderful and yes, I love to swim. No more gymnastics, that’s for sure! :P
    This injury has been hard on my notion of self. The one thing I’ve been able to maintain is hiking – all day, many miles, hiking. Locally and internationally. I do not want to give that up. Nor do I want to give up working on the ranch and riding horses. I plan to do that until the day I die.
    I do understand how you feel. But all of us who are pieced together like puzzles? We do fall apart eventually. It was worth it though.
    Here’s my thought – if I didn’t plan on cremation, that is. A couple thousand years in the future some archaeologist will dig me up and he’ll say – “See? She must have been a slave. An abused slave at that. Look at all these healed fractures, all these rotten joints.” Always makes me laugh.

  14. anny cook says:

    Definitely don’t heal as well when we age. But I’m still trucking, cane and all. Love your stories about your Jake encounters. Such adventures. There are some real idiots ‘out there’. How about the yellow ribbon on his leash. Do they have that out there?

  15. Sandra Cox says:

    OMG. Poor Jake. Poor Jake’s Mom.

    Wishing you a stress free weekend.

  16. Thanks, Sandra! I’m impatient for the day when I can actually walk at a normal pace!

  17. Thanks, Sandra. I can’t wait until I can walk at a normal pace.

  18. Good for you, Anny! I do keep a cane in the car just in case. Yeah, but see if I could walk fast I could out-walk all the idiots.

  19. Roberta says:

    I find busy bodies so annoying. That is the kindest way I can say it rather than what I want to say.

    Why is it people – total strangers – think thy have a right to tell you what to do. I hate it when people try to tell me how to live my life or what to do.

    I usually listen without talking and then just say something like, that sounds good. I’ll have to try that some time.” Then I leave and do what I darn well want.

    Jake is a perfect gentleman.

  20. Busy bodies. Yes, well put, Roberta. Jake is usually a gentleman. Not always. He does have his mortal enemies list, remember. ;)

  21. I am so impressed with Jake, even more now. He can carry things up and down the stairs…wait for you to catch up during the walks…and he refrains from biting the know-it-all lady who would enroll him in dog training. THAT is impressive.

    The Olympic Training Center is in Colorado Springs, and so is the grueling Pikes Peak Marathon, a high altitude, thin-air full marathon up and down a Fourteener (14,115 foot) mountain. Olympic running trainers do no allow their athletes to run the full marathon, ascent only. Running down the mountain trail is too damaging. Just saying, watch going down hills…

  22. Oh Marylin! Jake can act like a wild thing. We always say it’s like living with a semi-domesticated lion. But when he has to step it up he does so. Yeah, downhill. The pits! :)