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Our dog, Stanzi, got a nice treat after doing so well —

a rest on the bench at the end of the Vista Verde Trail with this view of the Rio Grande gorge.

















It was a big event!

Just shy of six-months, Stanzi got her first hike — unleashed


The Vista Verde Trail is a three-mile round-trip hike mid-way down in the Rio Grande gorge.

The weather was warm enough to melt the snow and leave only moist, none-cloying mud on the trail.

We chose a Tuesday morning in early March.

Being off-season we could likely avoid bumping into tourists.

And this trail is far enough from town it was less likely we’d run into locals with their dogs on the trail.

So with only the distractions of nature, we gave Stanzi the freedom of her first leash-free trail experience.

The last time Stanzi hiked this trail we allowed her to run free, but with her leash attached so that we could quickly grab it to bring her under control.

That time she met three other dogs on the trail — one with a hiker and two with a couple.

All of the dogs were off-leash. They playfully approached Stanzi. But she shied away, taking stock of them before getting acquainted.

That of course pleased us, for we didn’t want her to be aggressive with dogs we meet on our hikes.

Later on that same hike Stanzi spotted a herd of bighorn sheep.

She barked, ran a few paces toward them, then stopped.

We called her and she came.  Obviously not interested in chasing the bighorns.

Back home, we have been thankful that she has also shied away in fear of coyotes who sometimes are nearby while we walk along our road.

So we felt confident she’d be able to hike the Vista Verde Trail, both staying close to us and not chase wildlife.

She behaved as a true princess.

We also worked at training her on recall.

We want to be sure she will come when called, under all circumstances. That’s a must if she is to become a courteous, non-intrusive trail-dog. And that of course is what will make our hikes with her most enjoyable.

Stanzi behaved well enough on this hike that we will definitely be giving her another go at it very soon.



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