Miikka had a bit of a treat: we let him do most of the hike off-leash. On our daily walks around the neighborhood, we have let him do this for very short periods, but there are just too many ways for him to get into trouble: squirrels, cats, cars, the road... On previous hikes, we have experimented with off-leash hiking, but never for very long. I have been nervous to try it for a longer stretch because if he gets interested in something, he goes deaf, and will not come. But, it was a nice day, there were no other hikers, and I didn't want to hold the leash the whole time, so off he went.
Miikka, mid-run - notice the ears?He did a very good job. Most of the time, he was between Benjamin and I, on the trail. Sometimes, he would lag behind, and then have to run to catch up. When we stopped for a break, he roamed around the area quite happily, playing in the leaves (and picking up ticks), and romping around. On the way back I had to put him on the leash earlier than I had planned, simply because he no longer felt the need to be a follower, and wanted to take the lead on the trail. That would have been fine, if I could have called him to me from time to time, but he was rather stubbornly deaf. Ah well. He had fun while it lasted.
The end of the hike did see a little mishap, involving me, a rock, and the round. Miikka was tugging the leash, and I wasn't paying attention to my feet. As a result, I stepped awkwardly and twisted or rolled my ankle. Luckily, my hiking boots protected me from too much damage, and I escaped with only a minor injury.