Waypoints: Moira & Jada Finding Their Way
- Erin Swanson
Ruffwear's very own Moira Hundley shares the significant experiences she's had with her canine sidekick, Jada, at their favorite waypoint – Good Dog Park in Bend, Oregon.
Every day, I have a dog that needs me. She looks at me with an eagerness to adventure. I must say “yes.”
My Jada is a beautiful, vibrant, and endlessly youthful 11-year-old Vizsla. She demands my attention and loves me for it all at the same time.
The pandemic caused a considerable amount of “phobias” about venturing outside and feeling comfortable away from home and in the company of friends. During these tumultuous years, it has been difficult for me to find a place – a waypoint – to go to. This was a frustrating contrast to feeling like a very social person, someone who always wanted to “go out, and do something!”
There is one waypoint in my life though, that won’t ever let me forget the reason to go outside. That’s my Jada.
While Jada is my own personal waypoint, there is also a place the two of us return to time and again that holds special significance. It’s my local off-leash dog space called “Good Dog.” Here in Bend, OR we have a very dog-friendly community. This space is so large that you can escape the crowded parks and have miles of trails to let your dog run free. I feel grateful to have this within a 10 min drive.
We’ve been hiking at Good Dog for many years now. Jada’s lust for running, spotting chipmunks, and flushing birds is always notably expressed on her face with a massive grin. She will actually revisit the same rocks, tree stumps, or holes that a critter has shown their face before. That’s even after years later … which is frankly, impressive.
As I write this, I can hear coyotes howling out of my window. They must have been excited for the rain. Jada doesn’t care much about coyotes, deer, or really any other dogs we may encounter. That said, I do. She’s far more interested in birds, squirrels, and chipmunks which are much less dangerous.
One day out at Good Dog, and this was on our usual trail, I happened to look off into the woods. I spotted what I thought was either the biggest coyote I’d ever seen or a wolf. It stood approximately 4ft tall and appeared to weigh around 100 lbs. (My job relates to outfitting dogs; I can guess height and weight pretty easily.)
I froze, not knowing what to do. I screamed at Jada, and she came to my side instantly. The funny thing was, she was oblivious to what I was seeing. The creature stood stock-still and locked eyes with me; I slowly creeped down the trail. I did not break eye contact until it was out of sight.
Having Jada with me by my side, my fearless partner, helped guide me down the trail and out of my perceived (albeit valid) danger. While she was likely oblivious to my peril, I was so thankful for her immediate attention and companionship. It’s an unmatched feeling.
I venture down to the river with every hike. It’s the trail that winds over the canyon and down to the water. Jada loves to stop for a water break and stalk the ducks that gather in the eddys. There is an old tree that has had its top torn off by a lightning strike. On its top, Ospreys have built a large nest. A perfect location for fishing, as they do.
One day as I glanced up in the air, I saw a Bald Eagle fight with an Osprey over a fish that the Osprey had just caught. It was an epic moment to witness. My bird dog, Jada, stared and was captivated by that. I was as well.
Once the fight was done, she turned and peeled off on the trail. She wanted to go home. It never ceases to amaze me what pure and intense nature experiences can happen, even in the same place. The waypoint.
I suppose that could mean that going home could be a waypoint too. Home is where the heart is, right? Jada will never leave my side and will always jump and bark in joy about going through the front door. She will nestle by my side, command a blanket covering, and whimper until her demands are met. There’s no question as to why her nickname is “Princess.”
With all that said, she is worthy of her title, and I will always aqueous to her demands for adventure. The best part of it is … I get to go with her! I know that forever her favorite thing to hear will be “Go Jada, go! Up Trail!”
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