Recently I took Mike and Duffy, our Old English Sheepdogs, on a three-day camping trip to East Fork State Park in nearby Clermont County. Spending 24 hours a day together is a good opportunity for the dogs and I to know one another still better and work out our camping rituals. Here’s why I think the dogs are such good companions.
As almost any dog owner would tell you, dogs love being with their masters. They hang out with you; they follow you around; they crave your attention, respond with happiness when you give it to them, and are eager to please. As I packed up for our East Fork trip, Mike and Duffy followed my every move, and they barked and jumped with joy when I attached leashes to their collars. I’m as happy about this as the dogs are. They have consistently positive attitudes and put us human beings in a good mood too. I always think that I can learn important life lessons from the sheepdogs.
Being in a new place can be unnerving, and the dogs enjoy being in the security of their playpen house. They sit and watch when I’m putting up the tent or washing the dishes. When they determine that what I’m doing doesn’t involve them, they put their heads down and fall into a sound sleep. They have a great capacity for rest and can go to sleep in a moment when it’s their “off-time”.
The minute I’m ready to do something, the dogs jump up and are ready to go. They are open to any activity I initiate. Most often this involves taking a hike and exploring the surroundings. Mike and Duffy stick closely with me and rarely stray off the trail, even if they see a squirrel or a deer in the distance. Sometimes they’ll take the lead, but more often they follow behind, Duffy just a step back of me and Mike behind him.
The sheepdogs are curious about everything in the environment – smells, sounds, sights. Though they’ve had minimal experience with bodies of water, they quickly took to wading in East Fork Lake. Mike, in particular, seemed to think he’s some sort of water dog.
All in all, being with the dogs is enjoyable because they have such good dispositions. They’re mellow, happy, and even-tempered. They often have a smile on their face and rarely seem depressed or moody. A skeptic might say that they ought to be happy because they lead such comfortable lives. However, I think it’s their basic nature. That’s why I like to hang out with the doggies – I’m always hopeful some of it will rub off on me.
-Donna D (10-26): this is wonderful david. then there are the humans who feel like they are never doing enough for their dogs....that's me!