That's one goal of those early dawn walks with Border collies.
The walks give me an opportunity to greet the sunrise and plan the day -- and they give the dogs a chance to sprint, to hunt, to sniff, to roll in the grass, to just be dogs.
We have our routines. Early in the walks, I scan the fields, looking for a raccoon or rabbit trying to steal a few more minutes of nighttime. I don't want the dogs giving chase.
Caeli surveys the fields, hoping to find something to chase before I stop her.
Tag watches Caeli, waiting to give chase.
Mickey races to the pond, looking for geese making a stopover visit.
As the walk goes on, the dogs run less and sniff more.
I look for four paws in the air for just a little too long. That usually means a dog is rolling in stink.
After circling the pond and nearing a wooded patch, I always put Caeli on leash. For that's when she likes to bathe in stink.
We never made it that far this morning.
For as we circled the pond, I saw a dark object in the grass about 10 yards from the dogs.
"Lie down," I told Caeli.
"Come here," I told Tag.
Sensing an opportunity for affection, Mickey sidled next to me.
As I snapped leashes on all three, the dark object moved.
As the stinky black and white kitty ambled toward the pine trees, I realized how close I came to a black-and-white dog meets black-and-white skunk encounter.
I forego the asparagus-picking part of the walk.
Avoiding the stink trumps fresh asparagus on any morning.