Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dog Tales

Thursday night, Jenny, Una, and I loaded up the dogs in the back of Jenny's pick-up truck and took them to the dog park.

We had a plan. It was a good one.

We'd take them swimming, let them run around with the other dogs, and get soaking wet. Then we'd load the back in the pick-up to take them home, and they'd be dry by the time they got back. 

Remember this bit. It will be important later.

So we took the dogs to the park. 

It seems hard to believe that only a few months ago, Cooper and I lived a life isolated from most other dog owners.

It wasn't so much that he was bad with other dogs, just that he was - and is - big. And excitable. And full of energy. And extremely eager to play. So while he isn't at all aggressive, the leash-pulling, whining, barking, pouncing can be a little intimidating, particularly if you aren't accustomed to big dogs. After a few incidences where other dog owners thought Cooper was going to eat them and their little dogs too, I decided that we didn't need no stinkin' friends anyway.

Needless to say, dog parks weren't in my vocabulary. 

Then came Casper. And Copper. And Dylian, whose name I've been, incorrectly, spelling Dylan because that's how it's pronounced. And with them, neighbors, who insisted that Cooper would do just fine at a park. Still...

I spent most of the ride down to the park in a state of panic because, well, I'd never ridden with Cooper in the back of a truck before. And I kept having visions of him jumping out into oncoming traffic.

He didn't, of course. But I worry. It's just what I do. 

I worried about the truck. I worried that once we got to the dog park, he'd run away. I worried that he'd go insane and eat the other dogs. I worried that the other dogs would eat him.

Have I mentioned how incredibly patient my neighbors are with me?

When we got to the park, Cooper, in his excitement, failed to realize that he wasn't supposed to chase everything that ran. Then he pooped. (Sorry...TMI...but well, poop happens.) Then he took off following a jogger. Then I took off following him, and the Poop Nazi took off following me, to yell at me for not cleaning up after my dog (which I would have done, because I DO) instead of running after him.

It was special, and I was really starting to question my sanity.

MORE than usual.

Shut up.

Anyway, there we were, the seven of us - three girls and four dogs, being pursued by the Poop Nazi. I was starting to wonder why I had agreed to this trip, when the dogs found the water. And then I learned the truth:

"Happiness is a wet labrador."

My friend Dan said this to me today. I stole it. Sorry, Dan. But not really. It's true.

I'm not sure if Copper was trying to kill him, or to help him back up. Either way, eating Cooper's head probably wasn't the best way to go about it.

Dylian, being a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, is even more of a water dog than Cooper is. He happily went out to fetch toys in the water. Coop isn't quite there yet.

When they got tired of swimming, the dogs took to the rest of the park, to run, jump, and play with the thirty or so other dogs that were there too. 

Well... most of them did.

Remember this one? 

Our lovable rogue with a heart of gold? 

Our little introvert?

He wasn't so much into the playing.

In fact, surrounded by that many other dogs, his response was to climb into Jenny's lap.

I'm not sure if something scared him, or if he just felt overwhelmed by all of the social action going on around him - I would certainly understand if he did.

I'm not real crazy about large crowds either. Particularly when the large crowds are mostly larger than me. And have sharp teeth.

Despite all our efforts to engage him in active play, Copper really just wanted to snuggle between Jenny and Una.

Look at that face. Doesn't it just break your heart? 

He didn't really come out of his shell until nearly everyone but us had left the park. Then, and only then did he loosen up and start running, jumping, and playing with the others. 

Cooper, being the Pack Leader and Type A personality that he is, did not have that problem.

I don't know how I ended up with such a social dog. You'd never know it, to see him here in the apartment with me. All he wants to do is curl up and lay in my lap. But with his friends...

He frolics.

He races.

He explores.

I love this picture. It represents the two of them so well. In fact, the sight of Dylian and Cooper running off together is now so common that I fully expect them to return one day and announce that they've eloped.

Oh, wait. Am I anthropomorphizing my dog again?


Besides, Cooper would never marry Dylian. He loves me. 

(Okay, now I sound like I need serious psychiatric intervention. Don't worry, I'm not really that insane. Just smile and nod. Like you all don't have these thoughts about your pets too.)


While there, we found a lovely young woman who was willing to take some group shots of us all. It's one of those things... dogs and children. Can't get good group shots with them, but you gotta have them in the pictures, because they're just so darned cute.

I really love this one. Everyone is happy, smiling, looking at the camera... well, mostly. Cooper is annoyed that I'm forcing him to stop playing long enough to be in pictures. 

But these are my people. And I love 'em.

This one, of course, is much more representative of what we actually do every night. 

"Wait! Stop"
"COOPER! Get out of her lap!"
"Dylian, Stop!"
"Copper, sit. Casper!"

Though most of our evenings are filled with echoes of, "COME BACK HERE RIGHT NOW!"

For all the good that does, anyway.

So, after about three hours of dog park bliss, we looked up into the sky and noticed something.

Massive black clouds barreling towards us.

We tethered up the dogs, and headed back to the truck.

Remember earlier, when I told you our plan was to dry them on the way home? And I told you that it was a good plan?

You know what they say about good plans?

Yeah. The torrential downpour we drove home in made getting them dry impossible. Poor Casper, being the terrier mix, and thus, the one dog without any Water Dog heritage, stared at us through the back window of the truck as if we had betrayed him. By the time we got home, all four of the dogs were pretty unhappy.

Particularly Cooper, when he realized that he'd have to stay outside until he dried.

On a related, but slightly different note, we seem to be dealing with a problem that all mothers deal with at some time or another - communicable diseases.

It seems that either all of our dogs have suddenly developed allergies, or that we have four cases of canine pink-eye at various stages.

Dylian is the worst of the bunch, poor baby. And I really did try to hold off on making the judgement about Cooper, but I swear, he's redder and more watery than usual. 

But, as we've established, I worry.

At least it isn't Chicken Pox.


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