We woke early to biscuits and gravy, cinnamon rolls, and Bella already up and following Kora around the house. It was nice and easy getting ready thank to Matthew bringing our gear to his house ahead of us. All we had to do was boot the horses, saddle them, and hit the road!
But we did have our work cut out for us. It was a nearly 19 mile day with a few long stretches on semi busy roads where we had to walk Bella on a leash. Until she is adequately leash trained, we can’t lead her from the horses, so we get our exercise in! We would take turns walking until our legs nearly fell off, then switch. We became utterly grateful when we got to the really quiet dirt roads where she could roam free without risk of getting hit.
Recognizing that Bella is still quite young, she has a few small puppy tendencies. Her curiosity about cows has been minor… until one decided to be playful and run. That was more than she could handle. Suddenly she had a playmate and she took after it at a dead run. We screamed at her to stop. Chasing cows is a good way for a dog to get shot. But the cow decided to chase her alittle too, which only added to her excitement that he was playing with her. But she is only just learning our voice commands, and while she is excited, she has yet to pay any attention. Though the intent of her chase was not aggressive, it doesn’t matter when it comes to harassment of livestock. The whole cow chasing thing is going to have to get nipped in the bud asap. As soon as she quite and came back over, we put her on a leash and kept her there. We didn’t want to take any chances that she might do it again. Well, that will be a research priority in Stockton about how to teach a dog not to chase cows! Yikes!
Bella is like Chance. She’s coming into this trip without much time to get her walking legs on her. Bella has the same heart and trooper attitude that Chance had- determination to keep up. She will be fine in no time. But she was getting quite tired today. Anytime someone would stop us on the road to chat for a minute, she learned real quick to lay down and take a nap. Towards the last hour of the day’s ride, I think she was out cold napping in the grass in about 20 seconds flat! We had about 3 miles to go and she was struggling. She’d already walked a respectable 16 miles today, 18 miles yesterday, and several days prior to that too. We finally decided to try something. It had been my turn to walk, so I scooped her up and lifted her up to Richard on Satchmo! We weren’t sure how either of them would handle it, but it was worth a try. Satchmo has obviously really grown up on this trip. A year ago, we’d have never tried this with him. But after almost 2,500 miles and soon turning 6 years old, he was as calm as could be and it didn’t phase him at all to have a dog on his back! Likewise, Bella was just as still as she was when I through her over my shoulder the other day. She struggled to find a comfortable place to put her feet, but we managed to give her about a half mile rest riding on Satchmo. Surprisingly, it recharged her pretty well and she made it the rest of the way relatively lively.
We arrived to Matthew house completely whooped. We are not used to quite this much walking! But once again, the horses weren’t loaded, so it was quick and easy to get them settled in for their rest days. It’s hard to believe that the last time we saw Matthew was in Colorado and we actually rode our horses from there to his house in Missouri! He introduced us to his wife, Heather, who had been looking forward to meeting us for months. For dinner, we all went over to Matthew’s folk’s house; also the parents of Dale York who we had met in Colorado. It was fun meeting everyone we’d heard about for so long, but Richard and I were so tired we nearly fell asleep at the dinner table!
This was Bella’s first night not allowed inside. We didn’t dare leave her outside just hanging out yet, but we also didn’t feel she was quite ready to be tied up all night. She is only just learning to accept a leash. So Matthew helped us get her settled in one of their sheds with her blanket, food, and water. When we closed the door, it was the first time she had been out of site of us for more than a few seconds since the day she adopted us. We knew she’d need to learn to be ok with this because it will probably happen more often than not, but the first time was awful. She wined and howled mournfully. Matthew had an idea so we went back and he turned on a radio for her to keep her company. He also put one of his dogs in with her that she seemed to really like so he could keep her company for the night. Then we walked away quickly and hoped she’d still love us in the morning.