Barley and I are happy to see you out on the trails again. Really. We are. When we hadn't seen you yet in March, we were beginning to think that somehow we'd been left behind in some trail-user apocalypse.
Now that you're back, though, we need to have a little chat. I've noticed that your trail etiquette leaves something to be desired.
I get it. Really. We haven't had to share the trail in months--and I suffer from what my mom calls Bossy Big Sister Syndome (BBSS), so I've never been great at sharing anyway. For months, I've been singing "Let it Go" from Frozen out loud just to keep my mind off the cold. For months, I haven't had to worry about whether we were taking up too much of the trail. For months, we've stopped for photoshoots anytime we've seen something interesting without worrying about who might be coming up behind us. Maybe you've also been alone in the world for over 4 months and have forgotten how to communicate with other people appropriately.
I know it looks like my dog is well behaved. And she is. Most of the time. She heels like a dream. When she does decide to go out a little farther--which I let her do as long as she responds to commands--she checks in frequently with a glance over her shoulder. If I stop, she stops and sits. If I get out the camera, she poses like she's trained with Tyra Banks. She is a good dog.
But she's a border collie mix. And she's reactive. And she has a high prey drive. So if she feels something whizzing up behind her--and she will know you're coming before I do--she's going to react.
To Barley, you're just a weird-looking sheep on wheels and you're moving very quickly without her permission. She will turn towards you. She will stare. She may nip. She may bark or growl.
Unless I help her. For me to help her, I need you to help me.
I'm not a mom. I don't have eyes in the back of my head. My ears are relatively small and they're designed for hearing noises in front of me, not behind me--and contrary to what you might think, your bike is very quite (unless you've got those fun, plastic, neon bead things I was never allowed to put on my bike as a kid--then this doesn't apply to you). Unless I happen to glance over my shoulder, I will not know you are coming before my dog does. Help me out. "On your left!" is easy to say. Tapping a bell would be even easier. If politeness isn't your forte, we'll settle for "Move outta my way"--it's better than nothing and we'll take what we can get.
Exercising is more fun with friends. I had never even been to the local state park until I got Barley. But the trails aren't that wide. There's really not room for you to ride side-by-side while you sneak up beside us. That loose leash we've worked so hard to get means that she's got 6-feet of freedom to my left. If you're zooming by and only give us 3 inches of space, you're risking your life, especially if your mama didn't teach you to wear a helmet. Dogs--my dog especially--are unpredictable. She might be heeling beautifully when you're 20, 15, 10, 5 feet behind us, but the second you are beside her, she might decide it's more fun to herd you than to heel. We need space.
The world needs more teamwork. Let's help each other out.
Beth and Barley
P.s. To those of you who do regularly alert us to your presence, thank you! We appreciate you more than you know.