I learned many things while road tripping around France and Spain with Rocky. Two of those things are: (a) Rocky’s paws are much happier on softer, less-rocky ground and (2) I need to walk up more hills.
One of my post-holiday promises to myself is to walk up more hills, at least one per week. I live in the Cotswolds, so I have no excuse not to!
So last weekend Rocky and I set out on the Sapperton and Daneway Walk listed in the Pathfinder Guide of Cotswold Walks. As it turned out, half of the walk was along the towpath of the now-defunct Thames and Severn Canal, which is about as far away from a hill as you can get, but even so, it was a neat bit of history – the canal opened in 1789 and was abandoned in 1927, leaving behind an eerie bogland earmarked by the odd remains of canal locks, ruined masonry and the canal tunnel itself – 2 1/2 miles long!
Other parts of the walk saw a few small climbs (about 50 floors in total according to the Fitbit), meandering along fields and bringing to mind words I’d never used until I moved to Britain: hedgerows, copses, kissing-gates and sunken tracks.
I do miss the high drama of the Picos and the Pyrenees, but it’s good to be back on familiar ground. And I know one of us at least doesn’t mind the lack of extreme hills or sweltering heat. Soft ground, lots of shade and ample water features are where it’s at for the Rockstar:
One of the things I love about Rocky is that he doesn’t seem to mind me putting him in front of the camera – in fact, I think over the last year and a few months since I’ve owned him, he’s learned that when the iPhone comes out, it’s time to sit down and be pretty!
To that end, I’ve submitted his picture to Buyagift’s “Next Pet Model” competition. I don’t usually go in for such a thing but I think the competition is a nice one that’s worth supporting because it’s designed to raise money for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, an animal shelter in London that rehomes dogs and cats (my own Rocky is a rescue dog and I give mega props to organisations like BDCH which save unwanted animals and the people who take them in).
Plus, the prizes for winning the competition are kind of awesome and include a PET SPA DAY in London which my poor Rocky direly needs after wearing out his little paws in France and Spain over the last few weeks.
Click here to vote for Rocky (or whoever you wish!) in the competition.
When we arrived at Kate Hill’s Kitchen at Camont last Friday, Rocky was already worn to pieces. We had done a lot of walking in Dordogne, probably too much. Definitely too much. Rocky seemed week on his feet, but his energetic reunion with Bacon, followed by a few cat chases he just couldn’t resist, completely did him in. He’s actually been stumbling around, looking sad all over, and not at all his usual self. I tried taking him for a walk on Saturday morning but I could tell he didn’t have it him. His paws dragged along the towpath, so I took us back to Kate’s, and declared our stay here rest time. As it turns out, I needed the rest, too.
In my normal day to day life, I’m generally a slave to routine. I wake up early every morning. I exercise. I walk the dog. I work. I walk the dog some more. I rinse. I repeat. My routine is so precious to me that I feel a real sense of panic when my routine is interrupted. Especially when it comes to exercise. Exercise. That I even refer to it as such is a sign that something’s amiss. I’ve always believed that health and fitness should be one of those things that comes from just being active in day to day life. But it seems my swimming and weight lifting has become more of an obligation. This is no way to live!
Maybe this is why I road trip: to break out of routine. To force upon myself the twists and turns that get me thinking differently about how to live my life. To wind up at places like Camont, a place that is very much the antithesis to obligation.
When I realised that Rocky was hurting, it forced me to step back and think about what my time here at Camont was for. I think Rocky has the right idea: Rest is good. Sleep is good. Being is good. Do all of these things and good things will happen. And you’ll be happier and healthier for it.
And so it’s been for me and the people around me – Kate, Stephanie and Mardi. Conversation. Creativity. Making things. Going on adventures. Meeting new people. Learning about stuff. Dreaming. Making dreams come true.
The positive effect of the rest – and the good vibes that have resulted from said rest – are reflected in Rocky’s own demeanour. A few days off his paws (and with the help of some anti-inflammatories), Rocky is already looking more chipper, and he and Bacon have settled in like old mates. It’s too hot for much sunbathing, but this shot from last year should give you an idea of the kind of time we’re having:
I had a panic the other day. I’ve barely planned for this trip – that I actually acquired ferry tickets in the first place is a minor miracle. But life has been distracting and I always just reassured myself that “well, I’ve booked the ferry, so I’m going no matter what, why over think things?”
The panic was this: I suddenly remembered – 5 days before my trip – that bringing Rocky overseas meant getting him vaccinated against evil things and waiting a couple weeks before he can actually travel.
Oh no! What if I couldn’t bring Rocky?
Anyway, crisis averted: Rocky was vaccinated last year and the vaccination doesn’t “expire” until 2015. And now here we are on a ferry to France. They let us on the boat. I can relax.
That was my first dog learning of this Road Trip: rabies vaccinations have a shelf life of three years.
This blog is all about road tripping with my dog, Rocky. I will use it to write about the things I learn about my dog, myself and the people and places we meet along the way.
At this moment, we have just commenced a 3-week road trip through France and Spain. Lucky me, I’ve scored a private cabin on the ferry, while poor Rocky sits sequestered in his dog crate in the car. I’d like to think we’re both enjoying our quiet, alone time, but in all likely hood he’s looking forward to the other side. Or maybe this is just me projecting. He’s probably just having a nap (further proof that dogs are far more sensible than us over-thinking humans).