Dartmoor – A turning point for Zeph

It can sometimes be hard to strike a life balance when you live with Zephyr. We have come such a long way in the 3 years he has been with us, but this has been partly due to quite a few sacrifices on our part. The things we took for granted before Zeph joined us became more difficult. Initially just leaving the house was hard, he would cry, howl and rip the house apart. We have moved past this now (and one day might redecorate) and he will lie on my bed when he knows I am going out and remain there until I get home. His greeting on my return can still be classed as ‘over-enthusiastic’ , but it is progress!

Taking Zephyr anywhere has always been met with challenges and until recently we have always had to take another dog with us, if I took Zephyr out on his own he would shut down. He would either sit or lie and refuse to move….and I can’t exactly carry him!

A few weeks ago I needed to take Leon to Dartmoor as he was taking part in the ‘Dartmoor in a day’ challenge – This is a 50k challenge that goes from North to South Dartmoor. Leon was leading a group that were walking and expected it to take 10 hours. As I was recovering from a broken foot I decided that I would take Zephyr and our other three dogs would stay with Leon’s parents for the weekend. One dog would be more than enough for me with a limp, but I was worried how he would cope as an only dog but decided it was kinder than leaving him behind and I needed to support Leon.

We left  home at 5am and drove to Okehampton, where we dropped Leon off. We then drove to Postbridge where we would wait for them to come through the check point. Zeph was anxious when I got him out of the van and took him for a short walk/hobble, but felt brave enough to get in the stream and splash around 🙂 We then spent some time sat on a bench at a distance from the activity watching all the comings and goings. Zeph was quite jumpy with noises and movements but not as much as I was expecting. A few people came over to say hello and ask about him which he handled well once I had explained to the people approaching to allow him room and for him to approach them when he was ready.

Gradually we moved closer to the checkpoint and were eventually able to wait at the checkpoint and chat with those taking part that were coming through.  Leon’s group arrived on schedule and we ate lunch together before they headed off again. Zeph and I then headed off to our campsite for the afternoon. Once we were all set up I took Zeph for another short walk, expecting it to be a struggle, but this time he was more confident and inquisitive of his surroundings, brave enough to sniff and follow his nose. He even went to sleep when I was reading my book sat on the bench!

We headed of to Ivybridge to collect Leon at 7pm. Unfortunately his group had been held up so we had quite a long wait, however Zeph waited patiently with me and made friends with some others that were also hanging around, either having just finished the challenge or waiting to collect others.

Zeph is never going to be a confident dog, but this has shown me that he is more confident than he has ever been and that we are managing to build his confidence in small ways.

We have continued to build on this progress and have been taking him out on his own regularly ever since, choosing quiet places to visit with him initially so he has the space he needs when trying to process all that is new. I will update more on that later, in the mean time here are some photos from this adventure….

Oh, and if you are interested in ‘Dartmoor in a Day’ check out http://www.climbsouthwest.com/events/ Zeph and I intend to take part next year 🙂


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