Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hike #2 - Fuller Farms Nature Preserve, Scarborough, ME

It hardly seems possible, but we had just as much fun on this week's hike as last week's. Perfect weather, seriously awesome hikers, and another excellent location. This program is turning out to be the absolute HIGHLIGHT of our week!

The Location: Fuller Farms is a 180-acre tract of preserved land placed in the Scarborough Land Trust back in 2001. It is truly a hidden gem. Take Broadturn Road from Rte 1 in Scarborough at the light just after Dunstan School Restaurant where Pine Point Rd intersects Rte 1 on the L and Broadturn intersects on the R. It's a few miles out, on your R. Lots of beautiful meadow land and rolling fields lead to wooded paths, with wooden bridges over some nice streams for swimming. The trail is about 1.5 miles and we did three loops. There are some trail choices once you are in the woods, and we explored them all. The hikers liked the stream and small ponds the best and we spent a lot of time there, letting them play, splash and swim.

The Hikers: This week, Bailey Yellow Lab stayed home to rest. We added two smalls - Addie Schnauzer (Casco's BFF) and Sophie French Bulldog. Jessie Yellow Lab had her first hike as well! Returning hikers included Jethro Choc Lab, Lola Shar Pei/Boxer, Angus Cairn Terrier, Duke Puggle, Rosie Black Lab, Anabelle Sheltie and Molly Morkie. Ten hikers plus Casco and Tonya for an even dozen. Great group!

Jessie was well-behaved and joyous all day long. Like Bailey last week, she took a header into the stream and I caught it with the camera. This scared her but did not deter her from getting back into the water again and again. She traveled really well in the way-back of the Trail Blazer with Rosie, Jethro and Lola. Jessie lost her pink bandana in the water with the help of our bandana-stealing dog, Rosie. Later, Rosie stripped Sophie of her orange one so we put it on Jessie.

Duke had another fabulous hike. Since he and his Mom scouted out our location last Sunday, he blazed the trail and showed his pals where to find all the good stuff! He likes to eat grass... Duke loves the water, the mud, and especially sticks!

Anabelle once again thrilled us with her joyful running all around in the fields and woods. She is truly in her element in the wild, this one! She is a wonderful and responsible hiker. Concerned at all times that the pack stay together when we're moving along the trail, she's a good helper for sure. Then, when we stop for swimming and relaxation, she goes nuts and leads everyone in crazy chases. Love it!

Lola went nuts straight out of the car and worried us at the outset that we wouldn't be able to keep her in control, as she ignored all voice commands and just ran like a crazy woman, bouncing like a wild bunny through the tall grass. But, it wasn't long before she came into line and decided to allow us to get to know her better and build a little relationship. She slipped out of her collar (she's good at this) twice before the hike even started! So...Mike and I would simply put a hand on her whenever we could to get her to trust that coming to us isn't going to restrict her freedom. As the day wore on, she came to us more easily and allowed us to put her collar back on and later, to attach the leash to it to go back to the car. Lola doesn't eat ANY of our treats during hikes. She sniffs and turns away.

Rosie, like Jessie, fell into the water and it scared her but didn't stop her from going back in again and again. They are getting their water wings, these young Lab girls! Rosie is a fiesty hiker. She loves to pull on everyone's bandanas...including her own. She eats grass and mud and chews on sticks along the trail, and she's not opposed to stopping to wrestle with Jessie or Dukey at every opportunity. Bugs seem to love Rosie and I removed horseflies and a tick from her face along the trail.

Molly again impressed us beyond words as our littlest hiker. She felt much freer this time to get out and explore the woods and she even went swimming on her own! She waded right in, swam a bit and then climbed out. Nothing to it! She still prefers to stick close to Mike and I, which is totally fine. Sometimes, the other dogs trample over her as they fly by! She's really great for us and is also good at telling her fellow hikers to buzz off if they annoy her. When we stop for play, she's crazy and runs all over the place, which delights her pals.

Addie had a truly amazing first hike. She is wonderful off leash and stuck near the front of the pack all day. She had no problem with coming back to us when asked...even if it took her a time or two to "listen" to the command or squeak from our recall toy. She ate treats throughout the day and got into the water to cool off. She is perfect for our group and we want her with us from now on!! Casco, of course, was delighted to hang with her for the day!

Sophie Frenchie is seriously athletic and was really happy all day. She runs crazy-fast. She road up front on the floor at my feet with Duke and they are now inseparable. They cuddled all the way home! Sophie does get winded and we stopped to let her catch her breath here and there. She ate treats through the day and drank water as needed, but not as much as I would've liked. I worry about her getting overheated. We'll keep an eye on her. She's a total swimmer, too! Wow!!

Jethro was great on the trail. He's all about Julie's treats, for sure. At the house, he seems a bit anxious and uncomfortable, but I gave him an unbleached rawhide bone post-hike and that helped him relax and chill out. Jethro is learning NOT to jump on the gates and walls at school so please help him with this and don't give ANY attention to him when you come to get your dog or drop off your dog, thanks. It's been a while since he came to the house... Back to the hike - Jethro is independent and we trust him in the woods. He returns to me easily. His greatest joy is racing with Lola and Casco for the lead as we go along. Good boy!

Angus had another stellar day and was just terrific. Judy - if you could establish email contact with me, that would be great. Thanks. Angus loves Molly and they stick close during the day. He also was delighted that Addie joined us. Angus rode in the backseat with Addie and Anabelle and Casco and Tonya. They arranged themselves in different piles and were good riders. Angus loves to swim!! We love to watch him do it, too. Angus was simply made to be in the woods. He's totally in his element and is a wonderful hiker.

Precautions: I sprayed all the hikers pre-hike with Earth Animal's Bug-Off! organic tick and bug spray and will continue to do so before every hike. You MUST do a thorough check for ticks after we hike, please. We check but can't guarantee we got all the crawlies. I put paw soothing Musher's Wax on Lola. If your dog's paws seem beat up from the trails and woods, let me know and I'll do their paws pre-hike too. Offer lots of water to your dogs post-hike and expect that their poops will have lovely things like GRASS in them. WHY they insist on acting like cows, I do not know. Casco threw up in the woods and it was mostly grass, for goodness sake! Such goof balls!

Next Time: Not sure of your destination yet, but we're busy scouting.... Can't wait to do it all again!

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