We have always enjoyed the “escape from life’s routines” feeling when walking around local conservation areas and so treated ourselves to an annual pass.
Given that we are both retired, and that these places can be relatively busy at weekends, it was natural for us to take advantage of these large expanses of relative wilderness during the week!
We had already introduced Ray to various trail-type environments, and clearly he loved them, so deciding that all 3 of us should go to Mt. Nemo one afternoon was an obvious decision. Mt. Nemo, like most conservation areas around here, is on the Niagara escarpment* and therefore offers some impressive views of the surrounding countryside. Some of the trails go remarkably close to the escarpment edge so due diligence is important, which includes keeping Ray on his leash!
As soon as we started off on a trail, Ray had his nose to the ground. No doubt there were many scents that were familiar to him (squirrels, chipmunks) and no doubt he was picking up some new ones. All of course he had to analyse before voluntarily moving on.
We reached a point where we thought we should see if he was interested in some water, which he was! Afterwards he and I posed!
We then moved on, and Ray continued working his nose! I understand that, as a result of the huge amount of data that a dog’s nose can pick up, analyze and process, sniffing around can be quite draining on its energy resources!
I noticed some time ago that Ray was always interested in any dandelion plant that he found in our garden. This interest took on new meaning for Ray because we were now on a trail which was flanked by course grass, innumerable wild plants, and a prolific amount of dandelions! He was (or at least his nose was) in some kind of doggy heaven. He was probably thinking “So much to do and so little time to do it in!”
The trail has a number of rugged sections to cover, usually a steep climb over ancient (really ancient!) rocks of various sizes, and one brought us to one of those “close to the edge” points. We love these viewing points because there are many turkey vultures who have made this their home and we can watch them working the air currents both below us, and above us. They are not a particularly pretty bird but, with an approximate 6ft wing span, they can be extremely impressive and graceful (as they watch you just to confirm that you are alive and therefore of no interest to them)!
We sat Ray down so that he could admire all that was going on but he was not too thrilled.
While he has shown an interest in birds, he was showing no interest in these “big guys” that constantly circled in front of us. Occasionally one would fly over us with the resulting “aircraft type” shadow flashing over the ground where we were standing, but Ray stayed very nonchalant.
At the end of our hike (about 1-1/2 hrs), he jumped into the car and was clearly tired. In fact when we got home, instead of his usual routine of straining against his harness to get out as soon as his door was opened, this time he just lay there looking at us, clearly very comfortable on the rear seat. He was a very tired boy, and we had a peaceful evening!
* Niagara Falls is about an hour drive away and is the Niagara River draining Lake Erie (at the top of the escarpment), into Lake Ontario (at the bottom).