For a good part of the year they walk in the dark because the winter brings short days up here. Heading out with the flashlight, gloves, scarves, puffy coats and big boots, Mark and Jasmine leave very early every morning on their route around the neighbourhood.
With the change in seasons, out comes the bear spray to be packed for the surprise encounter hoped not to be surprised with. Sniffing takes Jasmine much longer with the melting of snow as critters are on the move and interesting poop needs to be sniffed and pondered with hackles raised. Coyotes and even cougars and wolves pooping by the side of the road and of course bears pooping in the middle as they like to do.
With Jasmine’s incredible sight, she looks ahead down the road at things we don’t even notice until a deer leaps across the road or a grouse flaps up out of the ditch in its attempt at a graceful takeoff.
A mama fox denned up to have her babies over the bank along the walking trail a couple of years ago and Jasmine was very aware they were there. She could hear the little ones first mewing and then yipping as they grew. Soon there were baby foxes popping up on the top of the bank to watch her walk by; Blondie, the one Mark figured was a girl because she was so flirty, and Blackie, the gutsy little teasing one with the others in and out of their den.
Because Jasmine is on leash, there is no chasing, no lunging at the foxes. It was more of a curiosity both ways…… you look kind of like me….but not, and foxes are really curious little beings. You yip and bark like me…..but not. She looked for the foxes every day and watched them grow over the spring and summer. She’s seen them in the times since around the neighbourhood maybe with a flicker of recognition as they look at each other.
The walks Mark takes are a time capsule in some ways. He walked miles with our black lab Benjamin and then with the dogs together as Jasmine came to live with us, and then with Jasmine alone when Benjamin was gone. The other dog walkers know how time works too. Mark comes back and talks about the day Bruce was walking alone when his dog first was too sick and then gone. About how the blind german shepherd follows the others along on the walk with the family. And he sees the time start again with Angel, a little fluffy white puppy added to the group as she grows and grows into her impressive Pyrenean Mountain Dog breed size.
Dog walks are a start to the day with quiet time of crunchy snow steps and the tick-tick of claws filing down on gravel. Of time to think and be. To nod at the others as they pass or stop and chat while the dogs sniff and wag tails.
Mark and Jasmine at BobTail Lake 2017.
It really hasn’t changed much over the years. Guys still head out with their best friends for long walks every day. And it’s so good.