You may recall that Joe the dog suffered two injuries between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day, the first to his neck and the second to his leg. This put him solidly out of commission for several months. He has been on 'bed-rest' since February. At first, all he could do was hobble on three legs, and the only place he went was across the street to pee. We had to help him lie down at night because sitting was difficult. We had to help him get up. During this time he was on muscle relaxants and pain killers, and after a few weeks he began to put weight on his leg again. We started going around the block, very slowly, and that's what we did three times a day - just around our block. Then we noticed he was going faster, and even trotting. In June, Adam and I started taking him on longer walks, but only leashed and only on paved areas. In July, once in a while I'd find him on the couch in the morning, which meant he was able to jump up on his own. At the beginning of August, I started lifting him in to the car every so often and taking him on a very short drive to a nearby open space, where he could be off leash for a short distance. Then he started being able to jump in the car; the low Mazda, not the Honda Pilot. Sometimes he can jump in and sometimes he can't. But he can always jump out, because his front legs are fine.
Today, I decided to take him on a longer walk in the open space, and we went a mile or so! And Joe jumped in the car both before we went and after we got back from hiking, no lifting required! It was a very happy day. I, too, have missed hiking very much, and missed taking Joe to the open space.
We are fortunate enough to have several open space areas within 20 miles of our house - Sugarloaf, Shell Ridge, Briones, Las Trampas, Lime Ridge, Mt. Diablo Foothills, Acalanes, Lafayette, there are probably more. And most of them are within in the East Bay Regional Park System, and most of them allow dogs off-leash for all or some of the property.
Today we went to Briones. This particular hike goes through both Oak Woodland and Grassland plant communities. Even though we are deep into the dry season, there was still so much to see and explore.
All the trees are bearing nuts.
There were even some flowers blooming; my nemesis bindweed which seems to grow everywhere in every possible condition, yellow star thistle which is invasive but the bees sure don't care, and a wonderful plant called Tarweed, or Madia. It's hard to know which kind I saw today, there are several, and all of them are native to this area. It's considered a weed, and it's in the Sunflower family. Birds love the seeds, and all kinds of pollinators love the nectar, and since it's one of the only things blooming in the hills this time of year, I'd say it's valuable. It has a really wonderful scent, which I admit takes some getting used to - sort of spicy, sort of creosotey, to me it smells like summer in the hills of California. It has a sticky resin that stays on your jeans all day, but since I find the smell pleasant, I don't mind.
Wild grape vines were growing up, up, up the Bay trees, and the grape leaves are starting to change color, making the bay tree look like it's on fire.
And the Buckeyes, the earliest harbinger of Autumn, are losing their leaves.
We have our two warmest months ahead of us, but this week the weather has been quite lovely, in the 80's and dry during the day, chilly and dewey at night. You can smell Fall coming, even though it won't arrive for good until November.
What a joy to be out in the woods and the fields with my dog once again. I'm very grateful.