- Time: 2 hours (or whatever you like)
- Gear: water – leash
- Difficulty Level: 1 paw
- Scenery: 1 paw
- Pack: You and your dog
- Comments: Lots of people traffic & bicycles
Lucky me, I live within a few miles of the W&OD Trail which is a beautifully maintained, paved, 45-mile trail from DC to Reston, VA.
We parked on the streets of the Town of Vienna where signs indicated there are no parking restrictions on Saturday. There is also a great farmers’ market on Church Street from 8-12 on Saturdays but the big “NO DOGS” sign kept us focused as we headed west on the trail.
At 8a on a cloudy day the trail wasn’t too busy and I only saw one other dog. There are some serious runners and bikers using the path so I kept Karma on a relatively short leash and responsibly heeded all the polite “on your left” call-outs from cyclists. You cannot let your dog wander all over the place when on the main path and you want to have confident control.
What’s cool about this and many sections of the W&OD Trail is there is often a parallel path that is mowed but not paved so Karma and I switched to that path the first chance we got (it sort of stops and starts). There I was able to let him have the full length of the Flexi Lead and wander and sniff to his heart’s delight. We actually came across several water areas where he could drink, stand and play (Karma doesn’t swim per se but that’s another story). I always look for water opportunities to help keep him cool not to mention he loves water so it ups the fun factor.
We walked about an hour and a half at a pretty good pace since I was wearing my heart monitor and wanted to count it as my workout too – ha!
One thing to remember on walks like this is “what walks out, must walk back.” It sounds obvious, but all too often people don’t turn around to come back until their dog starts to look tired and then it can be too late. Wear a watch and learn the limits of your dog even as you work to improve your dog’s fitness level.
When Karma was younger I took him on the same trail, starting out in the morning on a weekend day in September. I had grand visions of walking out/west at least an hour then coming back. Ha! The morning heated up faster than I expected and at the 20 minute mark Karma pulled over and flopped down in the grass panting. Of course I was dressed like Marathon Marge and all these hard-core fitness folks were laughing at the dog in the shade as they ran/rode by. It was funny but I was worried about Karma. It took us forever to get back as Karma kept pulling over and flopping in the shade. Obviously I ran out of water too. Times like this have made me hyper-aware of what it’s like to have this breed of dog in any heat whatsoever! So please, know your dog! And if you have multiple dogs – even if they are the same breed – treat them as individuals.