In my quest to find somewhere to walk the dogs(that doesn't involve them seeing another dog 500 feet away and taking off toward it to say hello thereby freaking it out and causing it to set off across the countryside at high speed with 50% of my dogs in close pursuit wondering why their hell bent for leather approach resulted in a panicked bolt) I have settled upon the middle school down the road which is located is next to a graveyard.
I load up the dogs, drive about 300 metres and park, yes this feels like overkill but I cannot walk all 4 together ... wait ... I *could* walk all 4 together but if they saw a cat or bird or deer or rabbit I'd end up with road rash. One or two I could man-handle but three Ridgebacks with a Puli to trip me ... no way. There is a little service road that is about 150 metres long and I park at the end of it and walk directly toward the graveyard. When I open the back of the truck everyone piles out and takes off down the road. By the time I am walking toward them they have arrived at the graveyard and turned around to see what's taking me so long.
They come barrelling back and we carry on toward the cemetery and then make a sharp left on the service road toward the school field. To our left, on this service road, is a lovely field with 4 foot high grass that is lots of fun to bound through according to Leeloo and that is what she did this morning .... boing boing boing! Wheeee! Esme followed but not too far in and Archer stopped to pee on a tree that bordered the graveyard. I'm not sure how offensive this is but it's not near the gravestones and he was discreet about it - it was a remarkably long pee too.
I am pretty particular about the dogs not going in between the gravestones. They do run in because they are dogs but I immediately call them out because I don't want to take a chance on a boy lifting his leg on a marker or anything equally disrespectful. Besides which there is a rather imposing grave stone that is a white marble Jesus staked on a cross at least 15 feet high and 10 feet wide looking down upon part of the cemetery ... his baleful stare is enough to instill a modicum of penance in any heretic.
That being said I only have one set of eyes. I was watching Leeloo boing happily in the grass with Esme attempting to follow. Archer was peeing on a tree and Raimi was just a few feet away. Suddenly Raimi bolted, with purpose, into the cemetery and I started calling him back. But Raimi was task driven enough to ignore me. He headed straight for a grave and I yelled at him to stop, but no, he was in 'go' mode and he wasn't going to pee on the grave, he was squatting to poop! I was mortified. Horrified. Embarrassed. Humiliated. Angry. And running toward him with murderous intent. NooOOOoooOOOoooOOO! The expression on his face was utter confusion. "Mommy, I am only pooping."
He shot away from me mid-poop and ran to the service road to stare in contrition and confusion. Mommy has never yelled at him for pooping. I looked down at the offensive leavings, planted with so little ceremony, next to a sadly wilting wreath which had been placed with care on a freshly dug grave. Of course it is. I removed a baggy from my pocket and picked up the evidence of our offense. I apologized to Mr Murray MacDonald and hustled out of the cemetery hoping no one but the (probably now completely disgusted) white marble Jesus saw the event.
We then had the opportunity to walk in the school field. Unlike in Calgary the school yards here do not restrict dog access, something I have had to untrain in myself. I make an absolute point of cleaning up any poop and watch them carefully for any deposits. This school yard is strange and awesome since it is entirely bordered by a chainlink fence but the mown portion of the field stops about 10 feet before the fence and allowed bushes and trees to grow up in that 10 feet. It's perfect exploration for the dogs and offers the best of both worlds - the opportunity to run like the dickens on flat mown grass and the brain teasing delights of being able to explore the bush and long grass. Archer is dead reliable about pooping in the bushes and if anyone poops on the field I can see it right away. There are also three ball diamonds which get the gears shifting in the Ridgebacks. I'm not sure why but hitting that sand diamond pushes the over drive button but it does int eh worst way. This morning after our walk I had to wash Esme because she was red from head to toe.
So now I have a place to walk them where it is fenced, we are unlikely to run into other people, and gives them a variety of interest during each walk to stimulate them. If only I could get Raimi to choose his toilet with a little more discretion.