Welcome to the first instalment of my new project! I'll be exploring trails around New Brunswick with my camera and my dog to share our adventures with you. I want to share the trails we walk in the hopes of inspiring you and your dog to get out for your own adventure. These walks are so much more than just activity, they're stimulating for your dog, for you and they can serve as valuable bonding and training time with your best friend.
The first trail we took was Killarney Lake. This spot holds a special place in my heart and I've walked the Lake Loop more times than I can count. I parked in the large parking lot overlooking the beach and away we went! Sampson was so excited at first, that we took our time getting to the trail to allow him to sniff, see people and dogs in the distance and get familiar. New environments can be over-stimulating for dogs and this caused Sampson to forget his leash manners from time to time and some whining. I waited until Sampson more relaxed and the excitement had died down a bit for him before bringing out my camera.
The first photo is the beginning of the Lake Loop at Killarney Lake.
I let Sampson be the leader of this adventure, and this meant taking a side trail, off into the woods. He makes choices based on his nose, who am I to judge? Off we went into the forest, following the nose of Sam.
That nose led me to a patch of woods that I thought would be perfect for our first time posing for photos. Funny as it is, I do exactly this with your dogs, but when Sampson and I go for walks, I typically don't bring my camera so that I can enjoy running around, too. So this was a new thing for us and I think he did quite well if you ask me... the proud fur mom of this big galoot!
I adore the way the sun catches his eyes and illuminates the amber hues.
We Karrie'd on with our adventure, which to Sampson meant, that's right... more sniffing. I wanted to see how he would handle being taken away from his very important dog business to pose for a few shots. This is a slightly bigger ask for him than getting him to pose in the forest where there are fewer distractions and it's easier to gain his attention.
He proved to be a pretty capable, handsome boy! Proud of him for being able to work past some distractions. He knew that up ahead on the trail there was another dog, which he thinks is VERY cool. Working for a few treats proved to be more rewarding!
The next direction Sampson's snoot took me was a small pathway that leads down onto the Lake. I could see that people had come down with snowshoes, skis and sleds to break the trail. I stopped to grab a photo of the lake!
Exploring the ice on the lake meant following tracks made by others who had been here before, we found tracks left by skis, paw prints from other dogs and holes left from people who had been there ice fishing. The golden light of sunset was spilling onto the lake and glowing on the snow.
While Sampson was busy sniffing away, I found myself chasing after light in the leaves of shrubs along the lake's shore. Sampson had apparently given me all of his focus and seemed to be confused that I had been pointing my camera at anything other than him and dispensing treats. Which by the way, makes for one heckin' cute face looking up at you.
I took advantage of Sampson seeking my attention to then do some training with him! He may be an old dog, but that doesn't mean he doesn't still love doing his old tricks. We worked on "wait" which is to make him wait if that wasn't obvious.
We do it while walking and I say "Sam, wait" and reward him with a treat when he stops and turns to me. If he does it while we're running, I give even bigger rewards because when a dog who is built like a mac truck is running, putting on the brakes is important if you're tied together with a leash. This helps when we're on walks and I need to tie my boots!
His focus was phenomenal and he was ready and excited to see what he could do to get the next treat. I decided to unclip his leash and work on his recall. First, I got his interest in a snowball. I knew that I would be able to throw it for him a short distance and call him back with success because there were no visual distractions, he had finished sniffing and wanted to engage with me.
It was a great opportunity for the old fella to stretch his legs and run after me as we played. And for me? Well, there is something really freeing about dancing and twirling in the middle of a frozen lake that's just good for the soul.
Now, this all being said, I don't recommend doing this with your dog in an unfamiliar place unless you're very confident in their recall or they're on a long lead. Sampson and I have had 10 years of practice on his recall to make this a possibility and I know his abilities given the circumstances.
Sampson's happy face says it all, hus enthusasim while playing with a snowball is him in a state of pure bliss. And I think I'm just as delighted watching him enjoy himself.
The sun began to dipping down below the horizon and filtering through the trees. And as much as I could keep dancing and laughing on the lake, I realized I did likely look like a looney out there with Sam and I didn't want to miss blue hour! I took a posed portrait of Sampson and then headed back to the trail. We basically took a short cut across the lake. Oops!
When we got back on the trail, Sampson was delighted to be able to greet a few dogs passing by. And although us human folks had to keep our distance, Sam loved getting to say "hello" to a few canines along the way. We met one smaller girl in particular who was working on socialization and Sampson was more than happy to show her that dogs and people can be fun to encounter. Daisy's owner asked if we would mind and I told her Sampson was dying for her to ask! Daisy and Sampson sniffed each other around in happy circles with loose body language and each dog was respectful. I asked Daisy's owner if she had any allergies and if I could help by giving Daisy a treat. Daisy happily took a treat like a good girl. It's great to know this owner is aware of how important getting puppies used to the world while they're young. She thanked us for taking the time! Little did she know we loved it just as much.
Oh, and trust me, I'm kicking myself for not taking a portrait of Daisy. Next time if we meet dogs, I promise to grab a candid shot of them for you all to see!
Sampson found a few spots to sniff that we stayed at for longer than usual. I thought them worthy of documentation so that if you happen upon these places with your dogs, you know that you've hit the jackpots for scent.
As we rounded the trail near the lodge and came towards the pond, the light was just right. The sun was gone and we were in the weird time where there's just leftover light in the sky. The golden hour gets a lot of love, but I've been wanting to challenge myself by shooting in the blue hour. I knew the lake would be pretty on this clear day and I had just the right model!
ABOUT KILLARNEY LAKE
The trail conditions are beautifully groomed and there are kilometres to explore. Sampson and I have just touched the tip of the iceberg by doing the portion of the trail that goes around the lake. The trails are wide enough so that if you have a dog who is reactive, you can make ample space to pass. There are a few inclines, but no serious hills.
This is a great trail for a dog who doesn't mind seeing other people or dogs. We encountered maybe 8 different groups of people and dogs. The trails do require you to keep your dog on a leash. We found a loophole and played off-leash in the middle of the lake at my discretion for the sake of some training. ;)
We hope you loved coming on our adventure with us! I'll be off on another walk to explore another trail again soon. Sampson and I can't wait for the next one.
Do you walk this trail with your dog? Or do you have a trail that you think Sampson and I would love? Leave your comments and suggestions below!
Happy Walkin' !!