My sister, Ondrea, took Milo and me hiking at Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, which is just outside of Calgary, Alberta. You can learn more about the park by checking out her blog, Walking Calgary.
It’s always good to have a local guide, and even better when that guide is Ondrea! As you might guess from the name of the park, it has a big hill and a spring. Ondrea started us out on a steep ascent. This was smart because we got the difficult climbing out of the way right off the bat. Of course, Milo is always a big help on the uphill sections of hikes. I give him a little “hup, hup” and he gladly returns to the days of his leash pulling youth. This makes those steep grades easier for me and has the added benefit of pooping him out just a wee bit more.
As you might expect of a place this close to Calgary, there were quite a few people on the trail. Early in the hike, we passed a woman who froze, clearly terrified, when she laid eyes on Milo. I did what I always do on a narrow path or sidewalk. Milo and I took two steps off the trail and I put him in a sit-stay. As this poor woman slipped by, I made sure she could see that the leash was short and I stood between her and Milo.
Being Canadian, and a woman, I apologized to Ondrea for making her wait for the 20 seconds it took to complete this manoeuver.
All she said, “I appreciate how considerate you are of how other people may react to him.”
That was a kind thing to say.
Even though Milo is the apple of my eye, I know that he is big and strong and can look scary. I also know that there are some irresponsible breeders who produced dogs with nervous and unstable temperaments, and that some German Shepherd guardians never learn to properly handle these powerful dogs. As a result, there are circles in which this breed has a bad reputation. I work hard to help people see that German Shepherds can be great dogs.
Every time Milo is polite, like he was on this hike, it is a win for German Shepherds in general. I try to help him be a first-rate ambassador for the breed.
When Ondrea noticed this, it made my day. And that good feeling stayed with me for the rest of our hike.
The tail end of the hike was wonderful. Ondrea ushered us along a gentle descent graced by a series of little waterfalls. The stream and the falls are fed by cold, clear spring water and we often stopped, watched, and listened to the water cascading alongside us as we walked down the hill.
If you get the chance, I recommend taking a couple of hours to check out Big Hill Springs.
It is lovely.