Dogs, dams and drones do not mix!

As you might have noticed, I like taking photos. But I’ve always admired photos taken from a higher perspective, especially from overhead. So I bought a drone.

I was thinking of waiting until DJI released its upcoming Mini 3 (due out in the US next month), but since I bought a DJI gimbal that I’ve rarely used, I thought it might be smarter to spend less and buy the Mini SE.

My first attempt at flying the drone was in the nearby railway reserve. But it was quite windy and I wasn’t game to fly it very high. Besides, it’s not a very scenic spot to take up a drone. So I thought I’d take it out to Rushworth or Whroo on a calmer day.

Today was the day. I drove to Whroo, and Mala and I walked out on the track that leads to Frank’s Dam. I was hoping there’d be some water to distract him from the drone: he hates the noise of them (who doesn’t). And I was hoping his obsession with ‘swimming’ (slapping, biting and barking at the water) would do the trick.

Frank’s Dam

Mala was a bit sooky on the walk (he’s been getting a bit more like this recently). Instead of his usual pulling on the lead, he kept turning and trying to jump on me. But once we got within about 100m of the dam, he started pulling – obviously remembering his last visit here.

I let him hop in the water, though there wasn’t much of it at this time of year. And then I launched the drone. It did not go well.

Mala ran back out of the water and jumped on me, seeking reassurance. Of course, he was covered in mud. And now I was too. I kept trying to encourage him into the water, all the while keeping the drone over the dam while trying to take it up higher to reduce the noise. I ended up giving up and tethering him to a tree so I could land the drone safely.

We walked back to Dalcom Dam. It had a bit more overhead clearance, so I thought I’d try again. I waited till Mala got in the dam and then launched the drone. Again, he freaked out and jumped all over me while I tried to get him back into the water. This time, however, the drone’s low battery warning sounded. Not remembering what settings I had for ‘return to home’, I panicked and took control of the drone, while trying to manage and out-of-control dog. I very nearly ditched the drone in the dam, just managing to land it outside the ring of mud around the edge of the water.

Wary dog at Dalcom Dam

Moral of the story: don’t fly a drone near a dog that’s becoming increasingly fearful on walks and of strange noises. Especially don’t do it when said dog is covered in mud!

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