Well ... I am just back from the shortest hike in history and heading out for a playdate with Jack, the Golden Lab youngster visiting the lake. More details to follow.
It is noon and I am home again ... this time from a romping walk with Kenya and Sadie. Jack and his human did not turn up today.
I was supposed to go for a 2 hour hike with the Wakefield Winter Walkers. Kenya and I followed Tom over to Carmen Road where we met about 30 hardy souls and one free range Border Collie who immediately told Kenya she was not welcome. I calmed Kenya and reassured her that she was a good girl and two women told her that they were very glad she was there.
Less than five minutes later our welcome was revoked.
A man in his early sixties, an acquaintance, and someone I had had nothing but pleasant dealings with, arrived and barked, "No dogs in the park."
I probably looked a little stunned because I had asked one of the organizers about bringing Kenya. "She's on-leash," I stammered.
He continued in the same rough voice, the same angry fragments of speech, "The 15th . Narrow icy paths. "
I said, "But I was told it would be all right to bring her on this trail; that it was mainly on a wide road."
"Who told you that?" The gruffness had now escalated and hardened into a confrontational tone.
I told him, and his response was, "He didn't check with me. I'm responsible for one of the trails."
Officious little bureaucrat, I thought. But what I said was, "That's fine. I'll take her home."
I have no idea how many people were listening because he was facing the crowd behind me, but at that point he began to try to placate me, to smooth things over, to offer me an option. I could take Kenya on a different trail from the other hikers. An easier trail. Then another short angry burst. "Read the park rules."
"It's okay," I said. "I'll take her back to the lake where I can walk her off-leash with a dog she likes."
"You could take the easier trail," he repeated.
"No," I said. "Thanks. Better if I take her back home. I don't want to break any rules."
I was ticked off ... still am ... The only reason I wanted to go out with the Wednesday walking group was to try out different hiking terrain and meet like-minded people once a week. I get enough exercise walking Kenya daily. And she gets far better exercise when she is off leash and chasing sticks along Pike Lake Road, where she can dash off into the woods or take a drink from the streams or the lake, and where she has good buddies to race with. The winter group will also be skiing and snowshoeing and I do want to be involved in those walks even though it is difficult to schedule anything that does not include exercising Kenya in on Wednesdays just now because of teaching.
This was an attempt to fit everything in on a Wednesday hike when it would have been possible.
I will likely join them next week ... but I really wish my first experience with this new group had been a little less fraught with tension ... especially when Kenya's presence on the entire walk with the others would not have been a problem for anyone.
I had intended to leave her home when we were on skiis or snow shoes or when the walking trails were particularly narrow ... I am just sorry that this week we were sent home with our tails between our legs.