Nicole was unpacking her suitcase this morning and examining her new walking shoes that had just completed their first sojourn. We had just returned from a Thanksgiving trip to Kentucky. I spent mornings and afternoons in a deer stand while Nicole went for daily restorative walks along the narrow travel lanes in this picturesque portion of rural Kentucky. The only cars ever seen belonged to people associated with the farm, and even at that, they were a rarity.
We had been invited to share the Thanksgiving holiday week with friends on their beautiful farm property, with the Licking River running through it. Nicole was commenting on the travel dust she had picked up on her walking shoes- I thought she might’ve been going for a country song, “Getting the Kentucky dust off my broke-in walkin’ shoes.”
Everyone at the farm loved dogs and had dogs they shared with us daily in our travels around the farm and at each meal that was shared. There were Savannah and Packie, two adorable English cockers, and Lola, a sweet and striking silver lab. There was Gabe, a loving chihuahua and Boston Terrier mix and Dozer the devoted Queensland heeler. These dogs filled the room and our hearts and helped us cope with leaving ours behind in Arizona. Our hosts are such big dog lovers that portions of their farm have been named after beloved dogs that have shared their lives.
Every evening, Nicole would report on how quiet, beautiful, and peaceful her solo walk had been. She would also catalog the new canine friends she had met along the way, independent of me, during her walk. She described how each dog she met would approach her with their rear end swinging, anxious to make a new friend. Each property she passed had an ambassador or two excited to greet the world as it walked by. Some of her routes overlapped on her daily walks and she traveled the same paths multiple times, getting reacquainted with new friends. She missed the company of her Arizona canine walking companion, Rafe. But the farm was within a larger connected community, and she acquired surrogate dog companions, some that walked part of the distance with her. Others maintained the parameters of their respective property boundaries. Her new canine friends held in place and cheered her on, like spectators lining the route of a marathon course. There were beagles, a yellow lab, a border collie, and an exuberant blood hound who announced her arrival with deep booming barks.
When our time there came to an end, we said goodbye to the many human and canine friends we had met on the farm. We prepared to enter civilization again and threaded our way back home through country roads, freeways, and airports. We assumed our canine companions were behind us, but it is truly amazing how ubiquitous this community of dogs is spread throughout our lives and experiences.
Arriving too early at the airport to check our bags, we found a seat for an hour and a half and watched as the sea of travelers walked past. The first thing to appear next to us was a small canine traveler wearing pink attire which matched her pink travel carrier. She sat in her mom’s lap on a quilted pad and held court. She monitored the assortment of other traveling K9’s who took other seats with their humans or passed in review headed to other places connected to other humans.
Finally, we arrived home to our own doggie crew, waiting patiently for our return. We had to give some make-up hugs and doggy bones. They were anxious for sofa time, and so were we…
Who is in your dog community? How are you a part of their lives, and they a part of yours? For information and training on all things DOG, check out our website: freerangedogs.com. Sign up for an online consultation or schedule an in-person training. Learn how to live the Free Range Dog lifestyle and enjoy everything a dog can bring to your life.