Since the week we brought Kali home a little over two years ago our walks along the creek trail and neighborhood was a special time for her and I.  Our bonding time.  Our golden  one on one time.  A time to talk about world events, to argue, and to simply appreciate one another’s company.

Since moving to the mountains the routine is different and I miss the walks.  I think Kali does too.

Don’t get me wrong.  We love our new home, the rural surroundings, the mountain air (for me) new smells (for Kali), the wildlife, and the slower pace of life.  But we miss our walks.

It’s not for lack of a trail or roads to walk that has kept us from our ritual.  Up here in the mountains the roads go on forever and sometimes there is nothing except trees and wildlife as far as the eye can see.  And dogs.  Off leash dogs.  Dogs protecting their land and owners.  This makes sense and is normal for a rural area like ours but it’s new ground for us “city folk”.

Back in the big city of Livemore (population 85,000 compared to Tuolumne population 1,780)  we almost never encountered an off leash dog.  So even with Kali’s anxiety with dogs I knew the situation would be under control between myself and the dog’s owner during our frequent encounters along the old creek trail.  In most cases Kali had become quite comfortable and uninterested as we passed other dogs walking as we passed without incident or a woof.

As things began settling down after our move I decided it was time to get back to our daily walks.  Kali and I headed off our property to a road that goes pretty much straight up hill.  OK, that’s good exercise for both of us I thought.  “Let’s go Kali”, and off we went.  When we got to the top of the hill I looked back and there was a big dog (who I had shoo’d off  our property a couple of times and he had run off timidly).   He or she was sitting at the bend watching us from about a city block away.  I watched the dog and he watched us.  Kali sniffed and smelled enjoying herself.  I waited to see if he would follow us. He didn’t.   This big black spotted dog just sat there and watched us as I contemplated what would happen when we headed back and had an encounter.  Would he sniff Kali hello?  Would Kali get anxious and bark or lunge?  Kali and I walked on and the dog sat watching us walk away.

We went farther up another steep road enjoying the scenery looking forward to the walk back home which would be presumably all down hill.  We hadn’t gone very far but for our first exploration it was good enough and we would be able to find our way back home without having to call Holly for a search and rescue.

As we turned a bend there was that dog still sitting and waiting for us.  Kali was oblivious but I was concerned about an encounter where even if the this dog was friendly he might react if Kali barked (which was highly likely given her new surroundings).  But this time when the dog saw Kali walk in his direction he ran off timidly as he done when I shoo’d him from our property.  Kali and I walked on down the hill and within another minute or two I heard barking come from the front of a house set back from the road.  This time the dog ran out towards us.  I kept walking and braced myself for an encounter.  The dog stopped short of the road, barked a few more times, and watched us move along.  I guess he or she had done their job protecting their pack and making sure no intruders stepped onto the property.   It was interesting that Kali was not fazed by the dog’s barking; in fact I don’t think she noticed because she was too interested in all the new smells around her.

So us city folk will have to adjust to the fact that most of the dogs in this area are free to roam on their properties without the oversight of their owners.  In fact Kali does too so what am I worrying about.  While Kali doesn’t wonder our 5 acres alone I have given her the freedom to be off leash when I’m out and about tending to outside household business.  We’re far off the road and Kali tends to stay close to me and around the house which gives me confidence that she is learning her limits and is uninterested in exploring beyond her safe zone.  Our backyard has expanded immensely and Kali has for the most part complied with the limits I’ve set for her and enjoys wondering within my sight and following me around.  So I guess were not much different than the dogs and owners.

I’ve never seen a dog on the main road that turns onto our little road so its seems these dogs know their boundaries, are certainly not strays, and are just used to living in the mountains where they can enjoy more freedom.  And because their dogs I’m sure most if not all are just as loving and friendly as Kali.   Maybe Kali and can bake some biscuits and take them to the “neighborhood” dogs, introduce ourselves, and put dad’s concerns to rest.



That was one steep hill! Hey who’s that dog way back there watching us?


New routines and areas can be very stimulating in good (and bad) ways. It’s clear you’ve done such a good job with given Kali a sense of home and security she’s adapting nicely to the new surroundings. Oh what I wouldn’t give for a mountain walk with just less than 2000 neighbors! So jealous. 🙂 Continued happy adventures to you and Kali. And the idea of biscuits seems like a great one to introduce yourselves and get to know the neighbor. Well done.

Thanks Monika. Always have some treats in the pocket when out and about with Kali and as you and Ann suggest they may be well served by sharing during encounters with the friends we meet along the way…

What a beautiful area for walks. I can see why you’d be concerned about the loose dogs, though. You just never know. But dogs do seem to know their territory. We live in the city and, fortunately, very rarely encounter dogs that are off leash or outside of their fences. When we have, they just seem to follow us from a distance until we’re beyond their small city block. I think . . . make that I’m sure . . . it’s far more alarming for me than for Harper Lee and Tallulah.

I think you are right about the dogs knowing their territory and just wanting to make sure we know it’s theirs and to keep our distance. And I’m sure you’re right about us being more concerned than our much smarter and instinctive canine companions.

I don’t blame you for being a bit nervous about encountering off-leash dogs on your walks! Usually, things go just fine, but you never know when they won’t, and that puts you in a difficult situation to handle. But as you say, dogs having the freedom to roam is common in rural areas, and I bet you and Kali will adjust to it rather quickly. (Carrying a few dog biscuits, just in case, is really not a bad idea!)

Hi Michael. Re Kali not noticing that other dog? Given her sensing ability, I would suggest that she new exactly where it was! We had a similar situation with Ray and it was explained to us that he was trying to avoid a confrontation by keeping his nose down “If I don’t look at it, it might leave me alone.” or “I’m too busy scenting to be of interest”. 🙂

I think you are dead on target Colin. Kali’s nose was down busily sniffing and as you suggest, in avoidance mode. Damn dogs are smarter than us – I would have stopped to fight in my younger days. 🙂

Ray never ceases to amaze me with how he can handle different circumstances. He may well be functioning totally intuitively…… but that is some intuition! 🙂

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