So, the Christmas and New Year break were busy for Zephyr 🙂 I made lots of plans to continue to work on his ever growing confidence (have i mentioned just how proud I am of him lately??). The first few years may have seem so terribly slow and soul destroying, but we are now reaping the rewards of allowing him time to grow!
We started the Christmas break with an extremely blustery walk with Jemma and her dog Della. This was the first time Zephyr and Della had met and after the first few minutes of concern that there was another dog close by, Zephyr settled down and even wanted to play towards the end of the walk ❤
We took Zephyr and Hendrix to Burrington Combe for a walk between Christmas and new year. We saw plenty of other dogs, some fairly close and others were in the distance and Zephyr handled all of this well. Previously he would be fearful of passing unknown dogs but his ‘critical distance’ has decreased to just a few feet for most dogs now.
Later that day it was the turn of Tuchena and Otis – they got to go adventuring at Stoke Bottom and Leon and I felt as though we had managed to burn off a few of the additional calories we had consumed in the previous days!
We plan for 2017 to be our year of adventure and have lots planned throughout the year. My challenge for 2017 is to help Zephyr continue to become more confident so he can join us on these adventures. (I think this is more achievable than leaving him behind as his growing confidence is definitely linked to being with me).
First up, we have purchased a camper van (known as ‘Albus the Adventure Bus’) which Zephyr will need to become familiar with. It took almost 2 years for him to happily get in my other van, so I am hoping we are over the main hurdles of travelling and can just concentrate on making the new van a safe space.
Next up, I hope to take part in the ‘Dartmoor in a Day 50k’ challenge in September…..so both Zeph and i need to be 50k fit! I don’t mind if we walk, run or do a combination of both but I would like to get across in under 10 hours if possible whilst still allowing Zephyr time to sniff and explore along the way (I was born optimistic 🙂 ) We have started our training for this. Zephyr has joined me on a couple of short runs along the cycle track, which to be honest I am not sure he enjoys!
We are also planning long walks each weekend of 4-5 hours and once a month attempting longer walks, gradually increasing distance, technicality and improving our time! (This is where Albus will be coming in handy!). So far we have walked part of the ‘Three Peaks Way’. We did this on a beautiful cold and bright day and mooched around at Zephyrs slow walk pace. Based on this the Dartmoor challenge will take approx 15 hours! Zephyr seemed to enjoy this much more than running on the cycle track though…even if we did get ganged up on by a couple of young horses!
The following weekend we took Zephyr on a walk around Cranmore Tower. As Zephyr thought we were going for a run when I go him out of the van, I decided to allow him to dictate the pace of this walk (I possibly should have worn trainers!). We covered approx 16k at a combination of walk, run and stand still and sniff this rock for 5 minutes! We got a better average speed though and are looking at covering 50k in approx 12 hours based on this. Zephyr definitely enjoyed this walk more than the previous one and much more than the run.
It may sound bonkers, but I think allowing Zephyr to dictate the pace may be the key to helping him enjoy this experience. We obviously need to dictate direction as he is no map reader, however dogs do not naturally walk at our pace or walk at a continuous speed in a straight line. They meander, go from one point of interest (usually a smell) to the next at whatever pace they feel appropriate to do so (depends on the smelliness?).
We have a few months of training ahead to ensure we are both ready for the day, but I am confident that we will achieve it. (Even if I do end up doing 100k due to all of the zigzagging!). I find it amazing that i am even contemplating it, as just 6 months ago I couldn’t get Zephyr to go for a walk with out another dog as ‘back up’…..did I mention how proud I was of him????