There are many ways to meet people in a village. Owning a dog and taking it for local walks is one of the oldest and best. We are lucky in Mortimer to have so many woodland and open areas that we can take a dog for a long walk. Since the lock-down, however, there has been a distinct change to the way dog walkers behave whilst out with their dogs.
Pick Your Path
Picking a path through the woods used to be dictated by where you wanted to go and how long you had to walk the pooch. Not any more! Now we dog walkers eye up the paths to try to find one with no other dog walkers present. Previously, we might have avoided other dogs (ones that didn't get on with ours) but now it's the owners, ANY owners!
Careful With That Gate (Eugene?)
Whilst dog walking is spot on for social distancing, especially if you pick your path, it is not without contamination risk. Gates are the culprits. You can practice social distancing at the gate, but you have to TOUCH it!
We have all worked out ways of opening the various gates on our walk without making contact with the metal surface. For some, gloves are the answer. In this house, Lynn has taught us a stick based technique for the latch coupled with some fancy footwork.
As this diary is part of a historical record I wonder what future historians will make of the fact that we don't want to touch a metal gate, but will happily pick up a stick that might have all sorts of other stuff on it!
Lead the Way
Walking in a large woodland area it has always been pretty safe to allow your dog some time 'off the lead', especially for a small West Highland terrier like Lily. However, I find myself using the lead a little bit more than I used to now. I do this for two reasons:
- Firstly, we need to keep the walks on time. We're only supposed to be out for an hour and if she dawdles too much then that can be put under stress.
- Secondly, to maintain social distancing. If your pooch runs off to say hello to someone else's you need to be sure they'll come back when you call. Two owners getting two dogs onto two leads is much trickier when you are trying to stay 2m apart!
Enjoying The Wildlife
One of the other things that I have noticed whilst walking Lily is how bold wildlife has become with the reduction in human (and possibly canine) footfall. This morning the squirrels were positively taking the mickey out of poor Lily on her lead. Running across paths at a proximity they would never have dared previously.
Deer and muntjac are also gaining in confidence. A young muntjac was feeding right next to the path as I walked home this morning. It didn't bat an eyelid as Lily and I walked under a metre away from her on the other side of a Lily height bush.