Path Integration – A TOOL WITH A TAIL!! Not “Just” A Dog!


Path Integration

I am positive that I have been accused of being the “crazy dog lady”? I am actually okay with being called whatever you like to call me, in regards to my dogs.  I freely admit that they make my heart happy and my face smile.  But you know what?

Hendrix does a LOT more than that for me.  Hendrix The Hiking Dog is 100% a “tool” that I use to navigate when I am on the trails. The one time that I did not trust Hendrix, and I encouraged him to follow me down a different trail than he wanted to go on …… YEP! We got lost!  In the desert; almost summer time, and barely found our way back, before running out of water.  This one time was also the only time I feared I may had pushed him too hard, and he started to show real signs of getting over heated.  Lesson learned!
But how does he do it?  Smell, you say?  Well, not necessarily. While a dog does have over 300 million olfactory receptors, and their sense of smell is 40 X that of a humans, there is an even more amazing “talent” a dog has!!

While I don’t pretend to fully grasp the concept, I do know that “path integration” is a really cool thing!  The simplest way I can come up with to explain my understanding of path integration is like this:

BONE:  WHEN AN ITEM OF INTEREST IS PLACED (like the car to go home for example) WHERE A DOG CAN SEE IT, AND THEN IS BLIND FOLDED AND HEARING OBSTRUCTED, AND LEAD AWAY FROM THE ITEM, WHEN THE DOG IS GIVEN BACK IT’S FREEDOMS AND LET GO, HE/SHE CAN FIND THEIR WAY BACK TO SAID ITEM.The dog continually monitors it’s net distance and direction from the item so that they can return to it from any point!


I don’t know about you, but I find this information incredibly amazing.  It also explains why, when out hiking with Hendrix, he doesn’t miss a beat on the way back to the truck, when we are hiking.  Even on the very 1st time being on a trail, the only reason Hendrix stops on the way back to the truck, is to make sure I am still with him!  Hendrix is also very confident in his knowledge of where the truck is.  If I call out to him, he will stop and look at me, as if to say, “This is the way my simple minded human!”  He is obedient, so he will let me redirect him, but he doesn’t necessarily like it.  While I am aware that Hendrix is using all his navigational abilities, I completely believe he is using path integration extensively; just not exclusively.

Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker

Do you have a better explanation of “path integration”?  Do you have a great story of your dog helping you find the way home? Please comment below and share your thoughts and stories!!!

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Crystal Digging At Salt Flats – Flat Out Fun!

Hendrix having a flat out good time at the Salt Flats!

Crystal Digging – Talk about a unique experience!! My husband, Craig and I had a free Saturday together, and we searched for something to do, that combined an adventure that we would both enjoy doing. When Craig suggested GREAT SALT PLAINS STATE PARK I recalled reading about this place before.  Opportunity for my hubby to dig, and both of us to let our dogs run sounded like a win/win! So, we loaded up, and off we went! 

It is so amazing to me that this place exists because it use to be covered by ocean millions of years ago!!!

The beginning dig!

Sure enough! Lots and lots of crystal digging fun!  I had never seen such a place, nor dug for anything, so, gotta say, this was a bit addicting.  I really didn’t want to leave!  Process is simple:  Dig until you find a little water, then feel for salt crystal pieces, then gently move the dirt away with fingers and the water!  I  was seriously pretending I was a real archaeologist!!

The careful process of discovering crystals! 🙂

My husband definitely enjoyed himself, and he found a really nice “cluster”!  I am not sure what we are suppose to do with the salt crystals, but it was indeed fun to find.

A crystal dug up at the salt flats.

As desolate as the sand flats seem, there actually is protected wild life there; including several bird species.  I am never NOT surprised at the ability for “things” to survive, and even thrive in certain parts of the world!

It was amazing to see life existing in this environment!

Even little lady bugs are living here!  We heard coyotes in the near distance.  There were also deer and raccoon tracks! 

Our beautiful trio resting from their full on run at the salt flats.

While we did let the dogs off for a quick run, in the back of the designated digging area, where there was no one around, it wasn’t our best choice.  While the dogs, of course, had a blast, we did not realize the birds were there at first.  Saity especially,  kept trying to drink water from the holes, which, because of the salt content, was NOT a good idea.  Hendrix and Bonnie could tell after a sip, or two, that the water was not right.  The salt seemed to be rough on the pads of their paws, also.  After wards, Saity threw up once, and had 4-5 accidents during the night, which she never does.  Her body did a good job of getting out all the extra salt, but we could have not been so lucky.

I do suggest going to salt flats and crystal digging, at least once, as we had a good time, but I STRONGLY suggest you leave your fur babies at home!!! If you do take them:

BONE:  BRING A LOT OF WATER FOR DOGS, AND DO NOT LET THEM DRINK THE PARK WATERThe way salt works in the body, is to balance out fluids.  Too much salt, and a healthy body will try to “flush” out the salt, taking with it other important electrolytes, including potassium.  If this situation becomes too severe, there can be very serious consequences. 

When your adventure is over, wash EVERYTHING:  yourself, your clothes, your vehicle (salt is very hard on the paint), any equipment your brought, the dog(s) if you bring them ………… And your crystal salts!! And look for the hour glass in your new crystal salts!!! Happy crystal digging! 

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