An unexpected hazard of hiking long distances in the woods of Indiana is the adoption of friendly dogs. One would not think that this is a problem. Most of the time it is rather nice, but sometimes it is the cause of anguish.
The job description of dogs near their home is to protect their territory. The negotiations always go the same way. They explain their point of view on property rights, we explain that we don’t intend to stay, and then the matter is resolved.
Now in the deeper woods, nobody owns the place, we are all just a bunch of wanderers. We have had many a dog latch onto us and include us into their pack, or, I suppose, include themselves into our pack as the two leggers are always the ones deciding where to go. It’s nice to have another friend along. Sometimes I’ll pet it but I have a bad habit of pushing relationships too fast. My forwardness is hit and miss, much like many of my prior dating experiences.
A short time is not a problem, but as these dogs will hike with us for hours, guilt starts to creep in. How are these dogs going to find their way home? Do they have a home? A little sadness sets in as I look at the companion walking along with me. Only I know it’s not a long term relationship.
Then there is the bigger problem. After hiking with one particular furry friend for many hours, we came to a four lane highway. The terrain was rugged and best route was to follow it for a while. It had a wide shoulder for us to walk on. Dogs don’t seem to understand shoulders. A pickup truck barreled down on our friend at 70 miles per hour. We all looked away, at the last second, in disgust of what was about to happen. With much screeching and some white smoke, the driver somehow manage to swerve around the dog. It was going to slow us down, but we had to get back into the woods before we had planned to. A little later in the race, it became clear that we were going to have the travel down that same road for a couple of miles. We were all quiet and just a little sick about it. Finally, I mustered up enough logic to overrule my emotions. That takes a lot of logic, as emotions represent about 64% of my board of directors. As the road neared, I grabbed a stick and started screaming at the dog, while chasing it around and trying to hit it with the stick. It’s interesting how hard it was for me to connect. This poor guy practically needed a restraining order. He finally got the point. Even though I was confident that I had done the right thing, one still feels like a piece of shit. I wonder if any of the girls that dumped me felt the same way? (this last part is a joke)
After getting to the other end of that road, the race directors had us climb a water tower and then rappel off of it. This was rather exciting and took a fair bit of time. As I was completing the task and coming down on the rope, I looked down on the ground, and there was that dog. Apparently, it had followed the next team to this location, somehow not getting killed. To make me feel more like a jerk in our relationship, the dog started to follow us again. We eventually outran it when we got on our bikes.
Sometimes,,, love sucks.