Well, the 52 Weeks for Dogs group challenge this week was "action blur". This photo is not really action blur although it IS an action photo and a bit blurry, or perhaps simply "slightly out of focus" would be a more accurate description!! However, I kept coming back to it, there was just something about the sense of freedom and Barney's joyful springiness, and even it's slightly out-of-focus-ness, that I rather liked and so here it is, a bit different to my usual photos :)
This was taken on Cherhill (said "chair"hill), a steep hill with beautiful views of Wiltshire all around it and a giant white horse carved into the hillside. Cherhill also happens to be just up the road from "Labour In Vain Hill" which I think must be one of the most wonderfully original place names that I've ever come across... I've been up Cherhill before but it was all new for Barney and for a moment or two at the start of the walk, I worried he was going to be nervy and have to be kept under very close control, or put on a lead - as occasionally happens when we walk somewhere new. There are no fences, or hedges, or even bushes and trees as you walk up Cherhill - just wide open spaces. It is the wide openness of the hill that I think unnerved Barney for a moment.
Usually he loves complete freedom to stretch his legs, at times, he seems to become overwhelmed in places like that - particularly if he's never been there before and will trot about listening intently for the sound of a bang, flinching at everything and getting increasingly spooked and wound up. However, yesterday after first calming him down, then giving a bit of encouragement to play and have fun, a few biscuits (and an absence of the bangs he was listening for), Barney shook off his fears and started having fun. He ran and ran and ran, and had a truly wonderful time exploring the little ridges and dips that make up the hill top, careering repeatedly up and down the main hill with a speed that never ceases to amaze me and very ineffectively chasing rabbits, with a big stupid-happy grin on his face the whole time!
I suppose that's partly why I love this shot, I've seen Barney at his worst - trembling, unable to eat, even respond to his own name, forced to remain on a lead and walk at my side. It could easily have been that way yesterday, so the very fact that I had the chance to take a shot of Barney merrily sprinting over the hill top, happy and free was wonderful! Dealing with Barney's varied sensitivities can be difficult but days like this (and they're a lot more common than they were - he's getting better at recovering), where he manages to forget about being frightened and just enjoy himself truly make any amount of work worthwhile.