Talk of the Town - Off the leash April 09 2003

Gator Batchelor loves to swim. He's always loved the outdoors. And he's the founder of Dog Hikers of Georgia. Did I mention Gator's an 11-year-old German Shepherd?

Dr. Daniel Batchelor, Gator's owner, named him after watching the water gush from the sides of his open mouth while he swam in their favorite lake.

Batchelor noticed how much his furry friend loved to hike and decided he might need some company. So he invited some of Gator's friends and their owners on their routine weekend hikes in the Red Top Mountain area.

Gator is obsessed with water. So halfway through the hike, Gator's buddies join him in a quick swim in the surrounding lake. Dog cook outs, dog kayaking and dog boating are just some of the many activities a dog of any size or inclination can enjoy on a Sunday afternoon with the group. And even better, no leashes are needed.

"You don't have to have a dog. You can just enjoy everyone else's," says Batchelor.

The club's motto says it all: "The only club in Georgia where members can run, jump, play, swim and sniff each other's privates.

Dog Hikers of Georgia meets every Sunday at 10 a.m. Contact Dr. Daniel Batchelor: 770-992-2362; drbatch@aol.com.