The Summer of 2013, being Ray’s first Summer with us, proved an interesting period for all of us. Because of his health, he spent a lot of time just laying on the grass and generally watching any activity from the local birds, chipmunks and squirrels. It was not entirely of his choosing because, in order to control his activity level, he was always leashed. He was not allowed off his leash in the garden until the late Fall.
An unleashed Ray quickly showed us how fast he could move as he careened around the garden (having a “zoomie”). There were many shrubs and small trees in his path and, while a smaller dog could have (and probably would have) detoured around them …….. Ray took them in his stride. He made no directional changes whatsoever but simply went through everything! We were so happy that Ray could now be himself, without any of our limitations on him, that we overlooked the damage he was doing to the garden. Most of the plants would probably recover in time anyway…… wouldn’t they?
Once our Winter snows arrived, Ray showed himself to also be a lover of the cold weather as he regularly did his “zoomie” thing and charged around the garden but this time we noticed that he appeared to have preferred routes. As Winter progressed and our snow accumulated, it became more and more obvious that he did follow a distinct pattern which inferred that he was generally running the perimeter fence with a few deviations. He would occasionally cut diagonally across an open area (lawn), circumvent two small sheds, and cut through the middle of a small shrub garden area.
When we realised that he also used his “trails” to get to an appropriate pee and/or poop location, we decided to monitor him closely because Ray and the garden could have quite a harmonious relationship if we could predict, and plan for, his routes in advance. After every snow fall, he would repeat his travel patterns such that by the end of Winter we had the basis for a solution!
One of the first jobs this past Spring was to lay concrete slab pathways as close to his routes as possible without any major plant disruptions. Many of the smaller shrubs were moved and much pruning was done to minimize damage by “Formula 1 Ray”! While I was rather skeptical that he would cooperate, it seemed to be one of those situations that “If you have nothing to lose and everything to gain……… why not?”
While I was in the process of laying the slabs, Ray was walking on them (making progress slow but at least he was not averse to walking on concrete slabs) which offered some hope that this just might work.
Success! In the early Summer of this year, and as our plants were coming to life, I had the pleasure of watching Ray as he once again careened around the garden but this time he used the slab pathways! Even when going to pee and/or poop, he would walk along the pathways until he found a suitable place to park himself.
As the year progressed, and with regular plant trimming, the “Ray Trails” appeared to be even more of a logical choice for him as they were becoming the clearest and therefore presumably the fastest route to follow. Was it perfect? Of course not as he did occasionally pick a different route through a group of shrubs however, for the most part, those “Ray Trails” saved a lot of plants from being trampled down.
Once again we are heading into Winter but this time the plants prepared themselves undamaged; the “Ray Trails” have been cleared of leaves and so we are ready for the onslaught of snow and possibly ice. Bring it on!