When your dream doesn’t come true

By Mark Laker

We had a dream to sea kayak into caves on holiday in Orkney this year.

I also wanted to catch up with my relatives in Orkney and Banffshire so a road trip was planned to include sea kayaking into The Gloup.

During our holiday we covered 1435 miles, 2 countries, 4 ferries, 3 river walks, 8 beaches, a forest and stayed in 7 different places… phew.

Previously our dogs have been trained into enjoying our hobby of agility and had all done quite well at that. Going on a ‘normal holiday’ identified new skill sets to be addressed.

Staying overnight in our dog vehicle or different Airbnb’s wasn’t anything new to them – we were just out of practice because of various lockdowns.

They hadn’t been brought up on loose lead walking, essential in strange places and rural areas where there may be livestock and around beaches which had cliffs and nesting seagulls. Prior to the holiday and during the various lockdowns we all became masters at walking on lead. When off lead for all the above reasons they also needed a 100% recall.

The only dodgy moment was when we were walking on a shoreline path and I was chatting to my cousins. I noticed somebody on the beach about 10 foot below us saying something about lovely dogs. I. looked along and saw all four of them balanced on a cliff edge close to a seagull nest complete with cute baby seagull. Luckily no angry parent seabird though.

I walked as calmly as I could along the path to where it branched off to the rear of this cliff and managed to call them quietly back the way they came with no harm done – not even to the seagull chick which obviously wasn’t on their list of something to eat!

The dogs were stars and the work put into their behaviour worked out.

As we all know the weather can’t be trained, and the Saturday we were due to go kayaking was very windy – too windy for sea kayaking. That dream had gone, however, we had a lot of fun practicing and building up our skills ready for this adventure, they will come in handy for future expeditions.

Figure 1. The Group from above

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