When at the lake, the dogs usually run off leash. Over the years, all of them have learned to not run off. I was a bit unsure about letting River have the same opportunity, given her background as a stray.
After the first day, I decided to try it out – as long as Bailey and Bear were around. Bailey didn’t want to leave the water and Bear isn’t much for adventuring. If all the other dogs stuck around, River would have no reason to go exploring. I figured it was safe to use that pack mentality.
This was the first time I allowed her to run free in such a big area and she loved every minute of it. She played with Bailey some, who just wanted to fetch toys in the water. But really River just wanted to run. And run. And run.
I was surprised how fast she ran, especially given the problems with her back legs. I’ve honestly never seen a dog run so fast. And she loved it.
She stayed close, only running in the open area down by the water. But she did start to test her boundary, so I reigned her in.
After a couple of times off leash down by the dock, I thought I could trust her.
I was wrong.
Our last full day there, I let River and Bear out and River sprinted to the front of the house.
“River!” I called. It was useless.
I knew she was fast and if she wanted to go, there would be no catching her.
I ran to the front and spotted her halfway up the front yard. She had stopped to sniff.
“River,” I called again. She looked at me then up towards the road. She gave me one more look before casually trotting up the hill towards the road. Luckily it was a cul-de-sac with no traffic. But I knew once she hit it she’d probably keep going.
I had Bear by my side, hoping his presence would convince her to come back. I slowly walked up the hill, not wanting to spook her off or convince her this was a game.
I was extremely cautious as I reached the top of the hill. Luckily, she was in the middle of the cul-de-sac still sniffing.
“River, come here,” I said, invitingly so as not to scare her off.
She looked at me and came trotting over.
I grabbed her by her collar – thankful this experiment was over.
I picked her up and carried her back to the house – not giving her another opportunity to slip away.
I let her run free one last time while Bailey played in the water. The interesting thing was – she listened better that time than she had the whole rest of the trip. I think her little adventure off leash up to the cul-de-sac taught her something.