A few weeks back in early July, there was a Vallhund meet-up right in our neck of the woods, on the Hutt River Trail in Silverstream. We hadn’t had one since before lockdown, so it was a great chance to get all the short-legged pups out for a run with their mates, and the weather happened to be perfect for it. You never know this time of year.
The river trail isn’t a long walk from our house, so we decided to make the twenty-minute journey on foot. As soon as we neared the driving range where the carpark is, the sound of happily barking Vallhunds was hard to miss. Higgs perked right up.
We greeted the Vall owners while Higgs sniffed his canine counterparts. Once we had given everyone a chance to arrive and there were around a dozen pups, we set off down the trail.
Andy and I take Higgs on this trail, combining various offshoots to make different loops, on a regular basis. It’s flat, has fabulous views in every direction, and there are lots of swimming spots for Higgs.
The gang of Valls happily trotted along, weaving in and out of the crowd of humans, sometimes running off into the grass to wrestle or take turns peeing on the exact same spot.
Soon, we came upon one of Higgsy’s favorite watering holes.
This is Higgs’s relaxation face, or he’s mid-bark… one of the two.
Brothers Jorj and Jed couldn’t miss a chance for a friendly sibling post-swim chomp.
Watching the pups splash around makes for endless entertainment.
Next up, another favorite pastime, chasing a ball (or anything humans will throw)!
I can hear the high-pitched barks of excitement in my head just looking at these photos. These are herding dogs, after all. Some of them go for the ball every time, while others just like the thrill of the throw and give up as soon as there’s a faster dog.
As you can see, Swedish Vallhunds come in a range of colors, shapes and sizes. Even their tails range from curly to straight to no tail at all. Higgs gets an award for one of the curliest will-unplug-your-charging-devices tails.
After a dip in the river, Chris, who organizes the walks, made a very valiant (Vall-iant?) attempt at a group shot. Valls aren’t very obliging when it comes to anything requiring sitting still, but the end result is still pretty entertaining. Higgs is suddenly made of plywood.
It was time to turn around and finish up our walk. Let’s just say these Vallhund outings aren’t so much exercise for the bipeds as they are for the canines, who run circles around us the entire time.
Of course, we had to stop now and then to dispense treats. As soon as anyone reaches into a pocket or bag, the dogs all appear like magic, on their best behavior.
Back at the start, we said farewell to the group until next time, when maybe we’ll meet for a picnic when the weather warms up, and hopefully Higgs won’t steal someone’s food like he did last time. The tired pups barked their goodbyes, but the three of us had other plans, or I did anyway. I’d brought my telephoto lens and wanted to get some pictures of the Hutt River and snow on the distant Remutaka Mountains.
Up on the bridge we drive over every day on our commute to work, I first had to snap a photo of a cute pup I spotted from above. Oh, hey Higgs!
“Mom! What are you doing, and why have you separated from the pack?!”
Well, there you go! You can just make out the dusting on the far peaks. Driving home each day and seeing this view, we really appreciate getting to live in Upper Hutt. We’ve got the mountains, river, forest, and we’re not far from the ocean. Although we haven’t been able to travel too far recently, we’re lucky to be where we are and to have the freedom to travel around New Zealand.
I hope you enjoyed taking a wander with some energetic pups (without the noise), and stay tuned as we travel to Castlepoint in a couple weeks. We also have some other holidays up our sleeves, if all goes according to plan! Sending our love from NZ, wherever you may be reading from.