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Ziggy Tails Season Finale: S1 E10

Oh what fun it is to have a Ziggy in the house, on the trail, or wherever I am. He is turning into such a goofball. At our last lesson, Jason, left me with the words, "Relax and just have fun with him." These past few weeks I have taken that to heart along with some advice from another experienced Australian cattle dog owner - learn to laugh.

What a change those few simple words did. He's a puppy and I need to remember that. I tend to forget that just because he knew the commands on one day, doesn't mean he will remember them the next day or even the day after that. But with consistency, he is learning the proper behavior and we are still letting him be a puppy. We are focusing on what we think is most important and letting some stuff slide. It's kind of like life in general, learning to pick and choose our battles. For instance, we are not tolerating his mouthing/nipping, jumping, and or barking. But other behaviors like digging we don't mind, after all, he needs to be a dog. Even if it is in the fire pit after I just spent the day cleaning and washing the floors inside the house. A rinse cycle in the lake will remove any ash before heading back inside. Or if he grabs a poop-chewy from the garden manure, then so be it. I am not going to sprint across the lawn chasing him to get it. His "Leave-it" works great on most things, espcially when hiking in the woods. But those cow patties are just so irresistible. As he chews away, I laugh and don't make a big deal of it and as I walk slowly to him, he will trade a treat for the poo.

Another thing we did this week to help him be a puppy and to use up some of his energy was to take him to doggy daycare. We found a wonderful place in East Millinocket called Katahdin Kritters. We did a meet and greet awhile ago. That went well, so this week we took him there to leave for a couple hours. He started out with the puppies and smaller dogs. When I returned, he was in the play room with the older and larger dogs, his favorite being a Great Dane puppy that was huge. No puppy kindergarten for Ziggy, he skipped a few grades. I guess he is like his mom, an over-achiever. He was invited back to spend a whole day which will come in handy when I want to hike in Baxter where pets are not allowed. It's a win-win. He gets play time with creatures of his own kind and I get to go to Baxter or do other things without feeling guilty.

(Video courtesy of Katahdin Kritters taken by Tia)

Since this is the last episode for this season of Ziggy Tails, we went to Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, someplace "epic" for him. He has done lots of hiking in the woods but not above Treeline yet. The exposed summits on Mount Dessert Island were just the right place to get above vegetation and not have to climb too high to do so. We headed out early. I think a little bit too early for Prince Ziggy. I woke him up at 3:00am.

Ziggy has been sleeping through the night for weeks now. I don't think he was a happy hiker when I opened his crate door. All I could do was laugh when he gave me the look in the above picture. Laugh, and grab my camera that is. I had to reach in an haul him out. I took him right out to his travel crate in the car where he went back to sleep.

A little over an hour later we picked up Patch and Brittany in Brewer, our hiking partners for the day. Then off to Acadia we went just as the sun was starting to brighten the sky. We wanted to beat the crowds and the heat. Even with a 6:00am start we were toasty warm and shed our top layer within yards of starting up the trail.

Hiking with a dog on leash is a skill I need to master. Up until this point Ziggy and I have maneuvered the dog/leash/tango quite well. He walks very nicely most of the time on lead. But all the trails we have hiked so far have been easy and mostly secluded. I rarely leash him. Acadia isn't difficult but there are more rocks, roots, inclines, and declines than where we have been going. And people. After awhile, since it was so early and we were the only ones yet, I did a trial run off leash. Ziggy performed well in Virginia when we hiked last weekend on the Appalachian Trail, so I decided to give him a try here. He did not fail. He stayed just far enough ahead of me without taking off. He would come back when I called. He did want to hike with Patch and Brittany because he loves them so, but with bribing-treats, I was able to keep him close to me. At times when the trail became more challenging I did leash him so he wouldn't get under their feet. And when we did see other hikers I would tether him to me before he noticed them. Staying a step ahead is the best and easiest thing to do.

We claimed 2 summits - before heading back to the car.

Sargent Mountain at approximately 1,600 and

Gilmore Peak at just over 1,000 feet elevation. Do you know how hard it is to get a descent selfie with a puppy? It is almost impossible. Our Gilmore picture is the best we could do and we all look goofy.

Patch and Brittany bagged Penobscot also. I chose to hold Ziggy back so not to over-do him on his first challenging excursion. He was 18 weeks old when we did this hike, still very much a puppy. But he is starting to loose his baby features. He is getting taller, leaner, and his eyes seem to hold so much wisdom - if dogs can have wisdom. He has come a long ways since we picked him up 10 weeks ago. He looks like an adult now only smaller.

(8 weeks old)

(18 weeks old)

With house projects, Patch's wedding, and to-do lists all a mile long, we have been questioned by some, "Why would we have gotten a puppy at this point in time?" The nay-sayers only see the negative. But Bruce and I see the bigger picture. Sure, with the passing of our last furry-baby fall of 2020, we said, "No more pets." That didn't last long. Animals bring joy to our hearts and when you find something you love you can't let the doubt or negativity of others have control over your decisions. Despite the hair, dirt tracked in from wet paws, chewed items, no control over our schedule, to name a few challenges, Ziggy brightens our day and softens our moods so we can deal with life's more challenging manure.

Well, this is it, the final episode of this series. I do hope you have enjoyed watching Ziggy grow and learn as much as I have enjoyed him over these last 10 weeks. It is a surprise I still have hair to braid from those days I have all but pulled out my locks in frustration. But the scars from mouthing and nipping a little too hard have healed, the potty training is going awesome, and there seems to be more goods days and fewer episodes of crazy-dog with each passing week.

Ziggy Tails Season 2 will return in the fall of 2021 when life slows down just enough so we can breathe. Until then, I will not be doing regular Emily's Escapades posts unless I feel something worth reading about takes places between all the stuff that needs to be done from now until then. Who knows, maybe a post or two about the soon to arrive kittens might put me in the writing mood. Yes, that's right, there will be kitties running around soon, As if we need more on our plate. The stray cat we adopted from a friend who took her in while she was with kittens, is with kittens again. He let her out and she managed to find a mate while she was still nursing her first litter. Stay tuned for more fun.

Happy Hiking,

Emily and Ziggy


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