First visit to the dog park

First visit to the dog park

I’ve been feeling guilty recently about Dionne’s lack of exercise. Since she’s not interested in balls, we can’t sneak onto the field across the street from us and have her chase them there. Tucker will wrestle with her now and then, but he’s not interested in racing around the yard with her. And as I noted in my last post, she can’t spend any time outside alone, as she’s still eating motley objects that irritate her digestive system.

Sometimes she goes nuts inside the house, exploding with pent-up energy. Yesterday I decided that I had to do something. So I took her and Tucker to the dog park.

The closest one to me is pretty pathetic, two sun-scorched mostly dirt enclosures on the side of Soledad Mountain Road (just north of Balboa in Pacific Beach.) What it has going for it, however, is that it’s only 10 minutes drive from the house. I haven’t been there often, but I’ve never seen it jammed with dogs.

When we arrived, there were two poodle-ish creatures, one large and one small, hanging out with their owners. Neither was playful, but that clearly didn’t bother Tucker or Dionne, who spent several minutes exploring the fascinating smells.

The poodleheads soon left, but a guy with a yellow lab arrived and that triggered several high-speed chases. I loved seeing Dionne streak around at full speed. She looks as fast as a racehorse.

To my surprise, she didn’t keep it up for long. It was hot, and I also wondered if she’s a bit out of shape. We left after about 20 minutes, and even after getting home we got home, there was lots of panting.

All evening, she was remarkably calm, almost sedate. Another reason to put “Return soon” on my To-Do list.

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Figging

Figging

Around our house, summer is usually the happiest time of the year for dogs. That’s because the venerable old fig tree that’s been here since well before we moved in 36 years ago bears so much fruit  we can’t possibly use it all, and figs rain down, splattering in the dirt. Observant resident canines usually gobble up many of them. By the end of the summer, the dogs invariably look a few pounds heavier.

When we returned from our African travels at the end of June, I noted ripe fruit on the tree and the ground, and I assumed that Dionne would immediately discover the joys of figging. Letting one’s puppy eat fallen figs isn’t exactly in the CCI Puppy-raiser’s Manual, but Steve and I have never been too draconian about preventing it. For a few days after her return from her sojourns with the puppy-sitters, Dionne did forage happily.

But after that first happy weekend, she had a revolting episode of diarrhea. So — yet again — we’re mostly only allowing her into the yard on leash. We have mixed feelings about this. We suspect she may end up being more amenable to life as a service dog if she’s spent most of her puppyhood confined by our sides. But clearly she’d be happier if she could roam around freely.

This afternoon the pangs of sympathy for her need to get out and tear around became too strong for me, so I let her out off-leash for a few minutes (during which I watched her pretty closely.) I noted that not many figs were on the ground. I think the first wave of ripening is past, and the second won’t come for several more weeks. But instead of figs, lots of baby avocados have been falling off our old avocado tree. (We’re hoping that’s just because it was so loaded with fruit that some self-culling was necessary.)

Dionne loves the baby avocados too. This afternoon she snatched one up and raced around with it, then hunkered down to chew it up.

They must taste awful — hard and bitter, but she doesn’t appear to care. I told myself she probably wouldn’t get sick from it. At the same time, I only let her munch on one before I rounded her up and brought her inside. The memory of that last diarrheal attack hasn’t yet faded.

Can it be true?

Yesterday a friend passed along a link to an article entitled, “Blind couple brought together by their smitten guide dogs,” from the online site, DogHeirs. It recounts how the guide dogs Venice and Rodd fell in love when their owners were undergoing training. Human romance resulted; this video 
tells the story. 
Dionne can be quite the coquette. I could see her seducing some canine hunk in her Advanced Training. As for getting the relevant humans to follow suit, as the above goes to show, weird stuff happens. 

Dog’s-eye view

Here’s the director’s cut of the video shot by our good friend Alberto Lau, who was seeking to capture a dog’s-eye view of the Coronado Independence Day parade last week.  The CCI puppy drill team was, as always, a highly popular participant.

The camera was borne by Tucker — who obviously received lots of good strokes in turn.

(I hope the video is viewable on this page, but if not, the youtube link is:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzveRQWVvqI)

Another puppy joke

Another puppy joke

Sometimes it seems to Steve and me that Dionne has heard we’re blogging about her exploits, and she’s consciously trying to keep us stocked with new material. Her latest contribution came the other morning, when Steve discovered his wallet (which had been on his desk) on Tucker’s bed in the corner of the office, contents removed, money chewed upon.

The money, being tough, survived. Much more disturbing was the fact that his corporate credit card was missing. And he needed it to straighten out some overdue payments to our health-care provider.
We both searched and searched and found no sign of it.  Steve was about to resign himself to calling the bank, canceling the card, waiting the week or two for a new one, when something inspired me to pick up the doormat.  Voila: 

How Dionne got the card under the mat continues to baffle us. Note that she also has had her way with Steve’s slipper. 

All wired up

Photograph courtesy of Ken Sergi
Dionne got her first (and probably only) chance to march with the puppy drill team in the awesome Coronado Independence Day parade yesterday. The crowds looked as thick as ever, and it turned out to be a warm and sunny day, so the experience was a challenge to puppy-concentration skills.  Overall, I felt she acquitted herself well (though toward the end, those Downs on the hot pavement got more and more grudging.) 

Photograph courtesy of Ken Sergi
Afterward, as we have for many years, the team adjourned to the home of CCI supporter Jeep Rice, where the pool is open to the pooches. I had been very curious to see if Dionne would leap in and join the wet and wild fun. She raced around the edges like mad and almost exploded with excitement.  But she never jumped in. That makes her our fourth CCI puppy who has not been a swimmer.  (Darby was the only exception.) 

The big thrill of the day came not from Dionne, however, but from our friend Alberto Lau, who is interested in creating a documentary about the process of raising a service dog. He acquired a Go Pro video camera, and along with his cinematographic partner, Bob Schneider, rigged up a harness to gather a dog’s-eye view of the parade.  Here’s Tucker in his videographer rig, which enthralled and amused many in the crowd: 
Hopefully, we’ll be able to share a snippet soon.  Watch this space!