A Walk with Bear Alone

Most of the time I take Dusty and Bear on walks together, but once in a while I just take Bear. As Dusty is in his 11th year, there’s every chance that a time will come when it will be just Bear and me on the trails. I don’t want that to be strange for her, and, for a while, she was afraid to get into the car if Dusty weren’t there.

As someone once said, when you walk with people, the people are the focus of the journey. When you walk alone, nature is the companion. Walking with Bear has all the benefits of a solitary ramble, but I have a responsive and protective companion. Our walks are often leisurely and meandering. We stop to listen to and watch birds, hear the frogs in the vernal ponds, take in the changes in the landscape that is now very familiar to us.

Bear loves these walks. Her “livestock guardian dog” mentality clicks into full alert status, and she stays very close to me instead of going to the end of her leash to explore. Because she’s mellow and doesn’t bark, I’m more relaxed knowing that if we meet another dog or people, there won’t be the bone-chilling Doberman Dusty bark (of friendship, but still…)

We just came back from just this kind of walk. We saw robins and bluebirds, red-winged blackbirds, Canadian geese and an egret. The shadowless white sky of high clouds shone soft light on the slowly greening Chamisa. My hikes in California taught me how to look at an “ordinary” place and I’ve come to like them best. My big white dog and I strolled along the path, feeling the wind, happy to be out there beside the river and between the ranges of snowy mountains.

There’s a stone monument/picnic area where we stop at the end of a walk. There I pet my dogs and enjoy the moment. I sat down on “our” stone bench, and Bear and I watched a robin hunt. A pair of blue birds joined her hopping on the ground.

A young man who had been fishing in the slough came toward us and Bear became alert. “I have a ridiculously friendly dog here,” I said.

“That’s good,” said the man, walking so he avoided Bear.

“What do you catch in there?” I asked.

“I was hoping to catch some browns and rainbows, but the river is too low. It’s higher in Del Norte.”

“I think they’re irrigating,” I said, “Last week the river was four times that high at least. Well, good luck somewhere else, man,” I said.

“Thanks,” he said and headed toward his truck.

Now as you read those words, you cannot hear him, but to me his voice was music. There is a Spanish accent in northern New Mexico and in this valley that stirs home-strings in my heart. He spoke in that tone, with that inflection.

“Bear, you want to go home?” I asked the big dog who straddled my knee, her version of sitting on my lap. She didn’t seem to care much. I guess she was fine just like that.

8 thoughts on “A Walk with Bear Alone

    • No one has mentioned the gentle leader being a muzzle in a long time, so maybe they have gotten the picture — or maybe when I say, “She’s friendly. Can she say hi?” they know it’s not.

      • It’s good to know that people have become more aware. Years ago with my first dog, everyone asked why he was muzzled….it was only later they came out with the t-shirt, which would have been handy. 🙂

      • They are wonderful training aids. I had a pit bull who would pull ahead and freak out because she couldn’t find me (not a very bright dog). The gentle leader fixed her world. ❤

  1. Bear is a beauty. She looks like she is squeezing her eyes shut while you snap her photo!Last week as my husband and I were walking, we met a man down the street with his little dog on a gentle leader. Of course, I bent down to talk with the dog. The man said, “sometime she friendly and sometimes she’s not.” To which my husband said, “Is that why you have a muzzle on her?” But I knew what it was b/c I had asked you about this in an older post. I felt so smart. 🙂

    • I think Bear was actually smiling in this photo. She does smile. She has a one side of her mouth smile for people and then this when we’re out and she gets a good smell in the wind. Yeah, the gentle leader makes so much difference to a dog. Bear actually got loose yesterday for the first time. Through a serious of mishaps, she broke her leash and she and Dusty went off to meet new dogs. It was the first time Bear has been “free” since she was a pup and ran off. I was really proud because she let the other dogs’ person catch her and she waited for me to come and get her. Dusty was awesome, too. He has a fierce bark but it usually only means “Hello! You want to run around?”

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