We had an epiphany of sorts the other day. We were walking back from a local crag, which has about a twenty minute approach, and our little pup was running around, generally enjoying herself with the coming of spring. “You know what?” I said, watching her joyfully bound up and down the trail, “We shouldn’t take Thunderpup to Rifle anymore.” Tracy asked me why, and I explained that it really can’t be that fun for her.
We’ve always kept our dog on a leash in the Rifle, even the famous Nicklepup, who was arguably the best crag dog in history. The place is already overrun with dogs running into the road and playing chicken with the huge trucks that race up and down the canyon on any given weekend. As such, we’ve always tried to do our part to keep climbers in good graces with the City of Rifle, who might be the best land managers ever when it comes to climbing areas.
Rifle is also notorious for having a bunch of kids running around, along with, in recent years, more and more babies being brought to the cliff. Add to that the already volatile mix of dogs off leash, throw in some big egos, and you’ve got the potential for a blow up of epic proportions, not to mention a six car pile up in the creek.
Thunderpup, being young, gets stressed when she’s on a leash as she wants to be able to go up and sniff everything, so Rifle, I continued my line of reasoning, just can’t be any fun for her. Contrast that with where we’d been that day, where she could roam free, exploring as she liked, or sleeping at the base when she got tired. Tracy agreed, and from here on out, you probably wont see us with our pup in Rifle. I’m not saying everyone should follow suit, but an hour playing fetch in the yard afterwards would probably be a lot more fun than being chained to a tree in the Ruckman cave, surrounded by an army of unsupervised groms.
And for pretty much every other local crag, she’ll get to run up and down the trail, sniff trees, and do whatever it is that makes dogs happy outside, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t involve a crowded canyon, screaming kids and a leash.