Tonight is Milo's last for this stay at Toad Woods; tomorrow he heads home. We took an extra long walk at Conant Brook Dam, though not quite deliberately. I meant to get back to Toad Woods before dark, back in time to mow the ultra shaggy part of the lawn I didn't get to 10 days ago. But a new path beckoned, and it said it was a connector path, so we followed along. And along, and along. Yes, it connected up with the path I thought it did, but only after looping up way farther than I expected it to, then dipping back down to rejoin the main path much farther along than I would have walked even it. Oops.
Good exercise, though. And it was blessedly cooler out, so the walk was a pleasant one even if my headband was more than a tad damp by the end of our exertions.
Our final walk back across the top of the dam was surprisingly lively. Two women were there with toddlers, young toddlers. Milo really, really, really, really wanted to check them out. Then the daily biker passed by, the third time our paths crossed tonight. Most days, we've seen him once and Milo has been reasonably well behaved. Tonight he wanted nothing more than to play chase the bike.
Last night's walk back was interesting in a completely different way. Milo and I were the only creatures in sight, so I followed my recently-developed habit of dropping the leash and letting him walk on his own, dragging it behind. We didn't do that down amongst the trees -- Milo was much too prone to taking off into the woods in a mad frenzy after a squirrel and there was no way he would respond to "Milo, Come!" under those conditions. Not for me, not for his owners, not for anyone. But up on the top of the dam, with nothing but gravel and rocks for hundreds of feet, the dropped leash routine worked fine. We did it on the way out, and again on the way back, for 4 or 5 visits, once we were both used to the place, and used to each other.
Last night we walked later than usual, giving every last moment possible for things to cool down to something tolerable. When we walked back up to the top of the dam, Milo looked up and froze, startled by what he saw in the sky, the clear sky.
The only thing there was the moon at half phase. The very only thing. Milo kept staring at it, then ran forward a bit, and stopped and stared again. He was fascinated. He started trotting, then running, trying to get closer to it. Not with the frenzy of a squirrel chase, just with deliberation, with intent. A casual run, as it were.
About halfway across the 1,050-foot dam, I called him back. He stopped, jumped back a few feet toward me, and stopped again, staring at the moon. We repeated this a dozen or more times, however many it took for him to come all the way to me. Each time it was a token "yes, I'm coming toward you, just like you told me to" followed by a stop. He wanted to be nearer to the moon, not moving away from it.
Even though there were no other creatures on the top of the dam, I held his leash for the rest of the walk across it. If I hadn't, Milo could have easily spent the night running for the moon.
And who could blame him?