Be Present with Your Dog

As I am hiking the Colorado trails along the foothills of Ft Collins I see dogs dragging behind their owners as they are on their cell phone.  Are you paying more attention to your phone then your dog on beautiful Colorado trails?

It is the weekend so you want to spend time outside and you take your dog because they have been inside all week so they want to be outside too.  There are so many problems here I don’t know where to begin. 

Sim and Sadie walking on the beach.

Weak Body Awareness

First problem is your dog has been inside all week, lying on the couch waiting for you to get home so they can play some ball or Frisbee.  If your dog is lucky they will get a walk once a day and maybe twice a day.  Physically your dog has poor core, back leg muscles, and proprioception.  I talked about proprioception in ‘Proprioception, What is it’. 

A weak core, hind legs, and proprioception create a weak dog when out on a hike or even jumping in the car.  They have become a couch potato and now you want them to hike with you. As they maneuver over rocky terrain and hills their body is slow to respond to the movements required and they end up with a back, neck, or knee injury that now lands them in pain and your pocket book short on money.  It takes a year or more for physical rehabilitation to heal the injury and then prepare them for normal life as a stronger dog.  

This can all be avoided by daily exercise routine of 10 min or less in the house or on a daily walk.  I talked about some basic exercise to improve core, hind leg muscles, and proprioception in ‘Canine Fitness Workout to Reduce Injury’.  If you are in the Northern Colorado area you can take one of our many fitness classes for your dog.

I Hear You Tina!

Stronger Bond

Second problem is you are not paying attention to your dog while hiking the beautiful Rockies if you are on your phone.  I see people, all the time, walking on a trail ahead of the dog as they are in pain or thirsty lagging behind.  As a veterinary technician in Jackson Hole I saw many dogs die after heat stroke because their owner left them in their wake riding their bike down the hill.   Please be aware and present with your dog while having fun outdoors.

Being present with your dog on a hike is a very good human animal bonding experience that will fill you both with joy in the beautiful Colorado Rockies.   You are able to monitor your dog’s body awareness and movements as you hike over rocky terrain or along a river.  Your dog is aware of your focus on them and is able to communicate their needs for water or a snack during lunch time.  Sometimes they are just plan goofy to entertain you while you are both communicating on your walk or hike. If you catch a change in their gait or body position you can assess them and prevent an injury later.

I Hear You!

If you have not read my story on animal communication go check out “I Hear You”.  A story about Tina, my best dog, that helped me recover from an illness.

Leave a comment about your best hikes with your dog and how you communicate with each other.


Have you ever experienced a time when you could hear what your dog was thinking or telling you loud and clear? 

Even though I’ve been connecting and working with dogs for most of my life, this awareness jumped out at me when I met Tina.    

Back in 2002

Back in 2002, I was studying at a private veterinary school on the small island south of FL. I was miserable, coughing, and exhausted from long hours of study and a stressful environment. But I didn’t want to go the town doctor, because in addition to sick patients, he had chickens and cats that roaming through his open cinderblock windows.

My fellow vet students felt the same way I did and we would always say; “if I get deathly sick, get me on the next plane to US territory!”.

So we could avoid x-ray’s in the parking lot with the chickens, we did a lot of our own medicating and treatments, all legal of course!  When my friend saw me at school that day, looking exhausted and coughing uncontrollably, she said, “What you need is Elderberry because it stimulates the body’s immune system and helps coughs”.

 I was already swallowing Echinacea complex pills trying to beat the bacteria attacking my immune system.  But we obtained whatever we thought might work, so we didn’t have to go to the doctor with the chickens!

I came home to my small apartment, ready to plop down on my single mattress bed and was greeted by Tina, my black and tan island Shepard that was 30lbs of skin on a little muscle with big pointy ears.  She was a rescue dog, from a junk yard living in survival mode to feed her puppies.

She was looking for food and shelter from me, other than that she kept her distance laying in the yard with the other student dogs basking in the sun, which was her favorite past time.

I was in Survival mode too.  Being so far away from home in order to pursue my vet education, leaving Sade my German Shephard lab dog behind, who died the day after I left the U.S, so my heart was still healing and I was also keeping my distance from Tina too.

I needed to lay down, I was feeling worse, but first I checked to make sure the glass patio door was secure.

We had been broken into once before. The Islanders would break into our apartments because they thought we were rich Americans with our cell phones and computers! I secured the door between the kitchen and bedroom as Tina and I headed to bed.  I retrieved the machete and a knife out of the closet to lay on my night stand, to aid me in protection.

Tina is right next to my side, she’s following me everywhere as I stumble around checking the doors and getting ready to sleep. I am basically tripping over her, as she has been showing this behavior the last few days. This is unusual since she has kept her distance.

But I fell on my bed exhausted quickly falling asleep.  Then I woke up, to a shadow of a man at the end of my bed.  Maybe it was the sun shining through my windows with bars, as I keep blinking my eyes to get a clearer picture with my heart pounding loud in my chest.

And I’m groping for my weapons on the side of the bed, keeping my eye on the shadow  at the same time, and then in the same spot, Tina pops up with her pointy  ears on alert as if to say, wait a minute, don’t get the machete out just yet!  What are you seeing there?  Shadow man not rea!   Tina real.  Shadow man, not real!

As I watched Tina, and really listened to her, I realized the shadow man, just might be the combination of healing plants and self-medication!

I looked at Tina who was still staring at me and I said, “I hear you, it’s the plants”

Tina looked at me smiled as if to say, yup you got it and walked outside to bask in the sun.

Yes, Tina and I were communicating on a deeper level. I didn’t really realize it at the time, but from that point on, we ditched our survival mode and become bonded best friends playing on the beach together. When I came back to the states, she happily came with me, although a little grumpy about the cold weather.

5 years later

It wasn’t until 5 years later, when I was infected with the mosquito born West Nile Virus that I began to understand the intuitive nature of our relationship.

You see my nervous system was in survival mode since being attacked by the virus. After busy days I would have what I called a ‘replase’ from nervous system exhaustion.  It was on such a day that I could feel my body starting to fatigue with a headache.  I was tripping over Tina as I was getting ready for work.  Actually she has been sticking to my side the last few days. I notice her looking up at me with those sweet brown eyes and pointy ears on alert. It is with a smile, that she’s telling me again, survival mode is not reality; Tina Real, headache not real!  I tell Tina “I hear you… I hear you…I hear you!!”  She turned around heading for her fleece bed circling several times to find the right comfy spot satisfied with herself providing me the message, again.

From that moment Tina was my guide, to stop a West Nile Virus relapse before it started, until she passed away in 2013.

Since I’ve become aware of this health intuition I could relate to my dog clients reality, to support them recovering from an injury and my journey as well.

Today I help owners..

Now I help owners work with their dogs special super powers for a stronger pawer pup.

The last 6 months I have noticed dogs are more aware of my presence through their body language.  They will turn to look at me through a car window or try to cross the street to greet me while on a walk with their owners. Today as dogs and I pass each other on the street we silently acknowledge our communication and openly say ‘I hear you. I HEAR YOU!’.

Leave a comment about how you and your dog communicate.