tails on trails today: who’s guiding whom?Posted: April 2, 2013
When I began Well Minded, I envisioned it primarily as a pet sitting business, but I didn’t want to close myself off. I’m an entrepreneur and an adventurer at heart, so I didn’t want to discount the possibility of going into training or grooming, both of which I have come to learn are not my strengths. Although I like to try lots of things, I recognize my weaknesses and try to focus elsewhere. I’m good at caring for animals.
I love to hike. It’s an activity I took up only after moving to AZ. There are countless trails in Phoenix, and my favorite local spot is South Mountain. I recently decided to combine my love of hiking and my love of animals. I started “Tails on Trails,” small-group hikes for dogs. Once a week, I pick up dogs, drive them to the trails, provide secure leashes, water, poop bags, and post-hike pictures to my clients so they can see our adventures.
Though we’ve had other dogs sometimes join the ranks, today it was just me and my two really regular regulars. They have been to every hike since the start, and we definitely have a multifaceted bond. When I arrive for pick-up, the brown one goes ape-shit. The black one is calm, yet welcoming. Both are SO excited that I’m there, and they know why I’m there. They enjoy the car ride to the trails. When we first hit the dirt, they go, then sniff. Mark. Walk. Trot. Sniff. Sniff. Sniff. Mark. And then I tell them “that’s enough,” and they seem to understand that though there will be countless animal smells, excrement aromas, and tiny fast-moving reptiles, birds, and small mammals to grasp their attentions and snap their necks in this direction and that, we’re there to hike. And hiking means moving. So then about five minutes in, we get into our groove. And then they go poop. And then we get going, for reals.
While they get over all of that, I’m making sure the leash isn’t cutting my wrist in the wrong place, my phone (for camera access) is in the most strategic pocket, and that my underwear isn’t riding in the wrong spot since we’re in it for the long haul. When we hit our stride, and we’re all in sync, I feel like something was meant to be. The dogs start to pick up the pace, and so do I. They navigate the trail beautifully, and I pick my footing as if I had instinct for the thing. We do this jog/walk/hike thing that feels good. Just as I notice a nice view, they slow down, as if they recognize something to be seen beyond the dusty trail their noses run along. And they show me details in the path.