Simon and meThere is probably no other place I have lived that seems so completely dog-friendly and dog-oriented.  Nederland is Dog Central, and it seems almost everyone who lives here has two dogs minimum.  One of the most memorable comments I heard early on was from a lady I knew who worked at the library here in Nederland.  She said some out-of-towners had stopped in and asked if there was a dog park in Nederland to take their dogs to.  In other parts of the state (or country), this would be a perfectly reasonable question.  Her response was priceless — she said, “Dog park?  No, in Nederland, dogs just roam.”  And so it goes here in our little neighborhood, where it is not uncommon at all to see dogs just sitting in the middle of the road, or for dogs to show up on your deck or your front porch.  I swear, I know all the dogs in our neighborhood by name and face, but the people?  Not so much.

This evening, we took one of our favorite summertime walks down to Boulder Creek.  We have a lot of Forest Service land adjacent to our neighborhood, and one of the trails is right up the road from our home.  It is a great summertime walk, as it is wooded and leads down to a creek, which right now is rushing and has created lots of little side creeks.  Simon likes to do his favorite imitation of “Loch Ness Doggy” by wading in and lying down as far as he can submerge himself in the creek.  Shawnee just likes to do a lot of splashing around, but will swim on occasion.  Oftentimes, as we head back up the trail, other neighborhood dogs will pop out of the woods and join in.  Some return back to their homes, but some occasionally follow us home and hang out for awhile, upon which I eventually do call Mom and Dad, and let them know Nigel is hanging out on our deck.

Besides the wonderful unconditional love they give me, I’ve concluded that here in the mountains, they also give me the gift of exercise.  We have two very active dogs — a retriever and border collie – that love to go for walks and hikes.  If I don’t take them out for at least an hour walk/hike once a day, I feel like I have let them down.  They in turn, make me get my butt off the couch, and go for walks, even when I would rather not.  All those cold, winter, snowy days when I would like nothing better than to hunker down in front of the stove, instead, I bundle up putting on my down jacket, hat and gloves and take them out in the snow, feeling all the better for it.  Tonight, is the end of my work week, and I could have very easily just made dinner and watched TV, but instead, we did our hike to Boulder Creek.  I’m sure if it weren’t them, I’d probably be carrying around some extra pounds.  I truly am grateful to my 4-legged children for all that they give me.