Children

I recently had an experience that reminded me how important it is to be a parent.  I am not a parent, just to be clear.  I just spend a lot of time in parks, and in the neighbourhood so I have plenty of opportunity to judge them.

You (in general), as a parent, are responsible for teaching a brand new person the ins and outs of life, and interacting with the world.  That’s a big thing!

Scene 1:

I was walking Gwynn through High Park after he’d gotten his spring hair cut this year.  Right out of his haircut, he looks like the most delightful teddy bear on earth to cuddle and squeeze and pet.  Beautiful day, tons of people around, and I was on my way to the dog off-leash area to let him run around a bit (and, as is inevitable, get some mud on the wheels, as it were.).

With that many people around I pay a lot of attention – make sure to keep Gwynn close when walking past that person who is looking nervous of him, or that kid holding an ice cream cone at dog-level, etc.

So I noticed when a girl – probably about 10 – locked on to Gwynn and began speed-walking away from her mother and directly towards Gwynn (from behind him), hands already outstretched.

Gwynn is friendly.  But He. Is. A. Dog.  And coming up behind a strange animal and surprising him with a random pet from a stranger?  Nuh uh.  And this is where I judge the kid’s mom, and intercede in the teaching of life-interactions.

Placing myself between Gwynn and the little girl, I told/asked her, “You know you always need to ask permission before going near a strange dog?  Right?*

I got a blank look in response to this, but at least she’d stopped moving forward.

“You have to ask, because the dog might be scared of people, or mean, or sick, or not like kids or surprises, but if you ask, I might say yes,” I add, when it becomes clear that Mom isn’t taking advantage of this teachable moment.

I get through to her.  “Can I pet your dog?” she asks.

“Absolutely!  He’s very friendly.”

End scene.  I really hope I got through to her, but frankly, I. Am. Not. Her. Parent.  or friend, or relative, or teacher/person of authority in her life.  There is just as much chance that she will go off and complain with her mom about that weird rude (possibly even that B word) who tried to lecture her about dogs, when her dog isn’t even not-friendly, so why? why?  And if her parents aren’t bothering with agreeing with me on this, then why would she?

20140524_123948

Why yes, he is friendly… but I’m friendly too until a stranger surprise-touches my butt

Scene 2:

Gwynn and I are walking through the park near me last weekend, on a pretty high traffic multi-use trail.  Enter a little boy on a bicycle going the opposite direction to us.  I moved off to the side, but that wasn’t necessary, because he came to a stop, dropped his bike and says, “Hi,  my name is (Let’s call him Timmy), can I pet your dog?”

Delighted, I said, “Yes!  And thank you for asking!  His name is Gwynn.”  And we spent the next few minutes talking about Gwynn, and bicycles.

Younger brother caught up, asked the same question, and, getting another enthusiastic YES-and-thank-you, started walking with his bike towards Gwynn.  Mom shows up on her bike at this point, and immediately says, “Stop and put your bike down, you’ll make the dog nervous.”

Brilliant.  As I walked away, I overheard the older kid telling his mom about how “That lady with the dog thanked me for asking if I could pet him!”

It warms the cockles of my heart, it does indeed.

directly after grooming

directly after grooming… everyone wants to touch him

In conclusion:

Parents: teach your kids proper animal etiquette.  Always ask, and always be gentle with animals are the rules they need the most.  And try not to pass your own fears of animals on to them.  Also, you are doing a fantastic job, in general (not that my opinion matters, here, but still.), at raising children and handling the screaming and the constant energy and the many MANY ‘Why?’ questions, and oh god, it just seems exhausting.

People with dogs: also educate kids if they don’t seem to know about the ask rule… and if they do know – make sure to let them know that them doing the right thing is AWESOME.  Because sometimes hearing something from a stranger can reinforce good behaviours that parents are teaching.

*Blog readers – you know this, yes?  If you didn’t before, you know now.  “Is your dog friendly?”, “Can/May I pet your dog?”… “Is it ok for my (child too young to speak coherently especially to strangers) to say hello to your dog?” And, regardless of what size a dog is, how happy he seems to be to see you, and how experienced you are with dogs, if the owner says ‘no’, then give them space!

The Runaround

Gwynn and I have been taking agility classes for the past few months.  Shocking, right?  I bet, based on my absenteeism in dog-post-land, you assumed I’d gotten rid of my furry buddy.  Considering how remiss I’ve been in posting at all, you could also make the judgement that I’ve also gone away.  Perhaps we both went ‘to the farm’.

We have been doing agility, though, and, if I do say so myself, we’ve been improving at it.  If any of you in the Toronto area are interested in doing some classes yourself, I highly recommend All About Dogs.  They also have doggy first aid classes, rally-o, disc-dog, flyball and other classes, which I’d bet are just as good as the agility.  They are all about training in steps, so that the final performance is how it should be.  They are also all about making sure the dogs are enjoying themselves.   Gwynn is in love with Renee.  She is a fluent speaker of Dog-ish, and can do amazing things when she takes one of the dogs in the class for a demo of an exercise.  I completely believe that the levels of training in dog agility are mostly for the owner.

Agility is a great way of continuing your dog’s obedience training in a fun way.  You might not be practicing anything very obviously command-like, but it’s in there.  I’m finding that our agility training is improving things so much outside of class for Gwynn and I.  He pays a lot more attention to me when he’s off-leash, his recall has improved drastically, and we are overall working better as a team.

I’m learning a lot about what my body language is telling Gwynn.  Very little of what I’m saying as we go through the course has any impact on what Gwynn is doing.  It’s my own fault in guiding him when, despite my enthusiastic shout of “Tunnel!”, he follows me along the outside of the tunnel.  In the same way, when I shout “Table” while directing him (properly)towards the tunnel, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he does the tunnel anyways.

Having a weekly class has also encouraged me to do more training at home (sorely lacking at times).  We’ve been working on our tricks as well, and Gwynn, I must say, is very enthusiastic in playing dead.  Not terribly good at acting… but definitely enthusiastic.  You’ve never seen someone fake-get-shot and fake-die with such a huge grin on his face until you’ve seen Gwynn do it.

My sister came with me to last week’s class, and videotaped some of our runs.  And then, with the magic of her Mac laptop, she fancied up her videos for your enjoyment.  I now have a Youtube channel.  Just understand that it might be under my email, but it was set up by my sister, who took the video, laughed most of her way through the filming of it, formatted the video and posted it on Youtube for me.  Pretty much the only thing I did was come up with an alternate name when it turned out the channel name “Gone for a Walk” was taken!

Check it out:

Polar Trex Dog Boot Review

In a recent post, I told you a little bit about how much of a pain the dog boots I first got Gwynn were.  I also explained why the weather in Toronto last winter was such a bizarre combination of abysmal (seriously, SO. MUCH. RAIN.), and lacking in severe weather conditions.  I got new boots… Gwynn got new boots… it’s a miracle winter came this year, frankly.

Ruffwear was nice enough to send me a set of their Polar Trex dog boot.  What most interested me about their boots was that they don’t use velcro.  The boot is held on with (and I quote, here) a Cam buckle ankle strap and cord loop closure system.  My hope for this was that, if snow did get into the system, it would still function.

winter evenings... not ideal for photography.  deep snow... not ideal for showing off boots.

winter evenings… not ideal for photography. deep snow… not ideal for showing off boots.

The next thing I noticed was that the rubber sole of the boot is by the same company that produced my toe shoes.  That isn’t what you’d call ‘pertinent’ information, but it is information.

I’m going to break it down into aspects of the whole boot experience, so bear with me.

Ordering:

If you’re not in the United States, trying them on in-store won’t be an option.  That being said, they go into great detail about the sizing online, and I chose the right size pair for Gwynn based on the measurements of his paws.  DO trace your dog’s foot and measure it – I think they quite purposely didn’t mark their sizing down as small, medium, large, etc – because your large dog might have medium sized feet.  Gwynn looks like a ballerina in his boots, his surprisingly dainty feet usually covered in a thick muppet-like coating of hair.  4/4 paws!

Donning and Fitting

The back ones are easy – he practically puts them on himself by trying to put his foot down.  The front ones require a bit more shimmying around, but with practice, it’s getting easier to do – basically, his wrist gets in the way.

They have some good tips, and a video talking about how to adjust the boot properly, which I found very helpful.  The strap needs to be pulled tighter than I did the first few times, but I’m getting better at it.

I am very happy with the buckle closure, and with the additional strap and loop closure at the top of the boot.  The only way I could think of to improve that would be to make it a plastic snapping-buckle with adjustable strap (like on many collars).  Then I could, mostly, keep each boot at the correct tightness for fore- and hind-legs.

I’m not entirely happy about the way the boots fit on his front legs – they come up over his Carpal Pad, which I think is a big part of why the front boots don’t stay on nearly as well as the back boots.  It doesn’t seem to make him uncomfortable, but it’s not ideal.  They should consider selling the boots with a shorter front-set.  If either of their other types of (non-winter) boots had the buckle closure, I’d consider getting two of those to use on his front legs, since they’re a lower boot.  Velcro+snow, however, generally means rummaging through snowbanks, trying to find that boot.  Based on some of the reviews on their site, I wonder if Gwynn might need a different size of boot for his front paws.

Gearing up and Fit – 2/4 paws!

The front boots had a tendency to work their way down, until they eventually flew off when he put on a burst of speed.

The front boots had a tendency to work their way down, until they eventually flew off when he put on a burst of speed.

Quality

The boots have held up quite well to a few months of off-and-on usage.  They don’t seem to be getting salt-damaged, and all the seams are solid.  After they’ve been out in fresh snow, they look just as good as when I took them out of the box.  It’s a wonderful thing.  Just based on the construction of these boots, I wouldn’t have any concerns with ordering other products from the Ruffwear website.  4/4 paws!

Wear

The first time I put them on him, I held in so much laughter that my stomach hurt for days.  Want to see a dog act like the ground is lava?  Yeah.

He got used to them within short order – just get the dog moving around outside, and they’ll tend to forget about the boots.  Both Ruffwear and I strongly recommend tightening the boot after you’ve been walking for a while.

Additionally, I’d suggest checking/tightening the strap every half hour or so, if your dog is off-leash and running around in the snow.  We had a beautiful snowfall last friday, and spent 2 hours out walking in the woods, with Gwynn off-leash and running like a madman.  By then, I’d had much more practice with getting the boots tight enough, and before letting him offleash at the park, I retightened them.  An hour later, he still had the boots on.  Downside – I didn’t check them and retighten at that point, and I spent the next 20 minutes trying to find a lost boot (soon followed by the other front boot) in the snow at dusk.  They stay on as well as I think is reasonable to expect – but all that running around does loosen the straps a bit, so tighten them on a regular basis.  While I wish I could just put his boots on at the beginning of a few hours of off-leash hike and forget about them, I think the only way that would happen is if his boots were part of a full-body snowsuit, or were attached to each other in a harness over his back.

On-leash, I didn’t bother tightening them at all, and could forget about them entirely.

Wearability – 3/4 paws

Price: 89.95 USD

The price seemed kind of steep, especally compared to the 40 I spent on the frankenboots (pre-modification).  The frankenboots were terrible quality, however, and the Polar Trex should last me quite a few years without any modification or repair.  You really do get what you pay for.  One nice feature of the product is that, if you do lose a boot, they sell individual replacements online.

Great for on-leash walking.  Good for off-leash, with a bit of vigilance.

Great for on-leash walking. Good for off-leash, with a bit of vigilance.

Overall:

+ great quality

+ helps a lot to keep our walks enjoyable with snow and salt

+ stays on perfectly while on-leash

– have to tighten straps regularly if the dog is running around loose

– The boots are too high to fit the front paw comfortably, based on my dog.

+ easy to order spares

– boots will fall off

– definitely requires practice putting them on.

Would I recommend them?  Depending on their purpose, yes.  On-leash, they’re wonderful – they’re sturdy, protect Gwynn from all the things that ruin our walks, and Gwynn doesn’t seem bothered by them at all.  They aren’t a perfect product, though, and I do have to spend a bit more time than I like counting red-feet when Gwynn is bounding through the snow.  If your dog spends a lot of time out of your sight when they’re off-leash, that could become a particularly big problem.

Gwynn and I are giving them a 70%.  Slightly less than 3 paws!

**The company gave me a pair of boots to review, but the opinions are my own, and not influenced by Ruffwear.**

Turkey Turkey Turkey Day!

Happy Turkey Day to my American friends in blogland!  I don’t get why you guys put it so late in the fall, but you make up for it by merging yams and marshmallows and brown sugar into an unholy trinity of glorious “no really, it’s not dessert!”

In honor of your ever-so-belated day of giving thanks (seriously, it’s way too close to christmas), I plan to try this completely not-a-dessert recipe for Stuffed Sweet Potatoes from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen.

What am I thankful for on this entirely ordinary Thursday in Canada?

I’m thankful that the salmon are done running, and that the animals have had time to eat all the dead salmon.  Because old-rotted-raw-salmon-on-the-river-bank, as I have learned the hard way, is a demon-smell worse than skunk, but less terrible than old-dead-naked-beaver.

right before he found the beaver. photo courtesy of fellow Meetup member from the hike.  From then on, he looked like a greased up brown dog, and for the next two weeks, any area he sat on for any length of time started smelling like a weazel nest full of piss.  SUPER grateful that this phase of our fall is over.

Gwynn is thankful that the two week period in which he got 5 baths, including one that involved vinegar, coke and baby shampoo, rinced and then applied again is over.

I’m also thankful that, this week, when I took Gwynn and Sadie into the woods for a walk, it was Sadie that rolled in something I’m going to loosely label ‘mud’.  There are times it’s really nice to be able to pass a dog back to its rightful dog-bather at the end of a walk.

A gorgeous fall day, on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. Plus side to an early thanksgiving? less chance of snow!

Hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving (or Thursday), preferably full of so much food that you pop a button on your pants.  Because, regardless of which Thanksgiving day you do, it’s all about the turkey!

Apartment Life

I’ve rented apartments.  I’ve lived in a basement apartment and a main floor apartment.  I lived in university residence for a year – probably the closest I’ve gotten to an apartment building.  I’ve shared a room with one girl… and with three girls.  Pre-dog.

When some friends went out of town for two weeks, they handed me the keys to their eleventh storey apartment and permission to bring the dog.  A perfect test of how Gwynn would do in my theoretical near-future move to an apartment or condo.

Some thoughts.

I am in bridge engineering.  My brain says the balcony is safe, in that it is lacking in signs that might indicate its imminent failure.  Gwynn and I agree that, regardless of its so-called safety, if one must go out on the balcony, the best place to be is plastered up against the building.  I love their view, but frankly, my future abode will need to be closer to the ground.

freaking amazing to watch a lightning storm from here, too… strangely, wasn’t bothered by the drop when standing out there in blustering winds with electricity and rain falling from the sky.

At home, Gwynn isn’t concerned about noises outside his  lign of sight.  At the apartment, between the hours of 10pm and 7am… he was on high-alert.  Any suggestions to get Gwynn to stop barking at every twinge of noise from outside the apartment would be appreciated.

Their apartment was heated through in-floor heating.  I can imagine it would be wonderful when it’s quite chilly out.  Despite being shut off, though, it was warm.  Melt-chocolate-warm.  I kept all the windows open (contributing to dog-barkiness, unfortunately), and a fan going at all times that I was in the apartment, just to keep the temperature tolerable.

Having to get into an elevator, go down 11 storeys and out of a building every time he has to go to the washroom SUCKS.  I had him outside every 1-2 hours until 10pm, just to be on the safe side.  He took advantage – giving me that ‘I gotta go SO BADLY’ look from the apartment door far more regularly than he actually… had-ta go.  This is not my favourite thing.  I really REALLY like having the option of just letting Gwynn go out in the back yard for a quick pee or sniff whenever he feels so inclined.

I’m not sure if it was just this particular building, but in two weeks, we met a broad assortment of dogs – one of which was friendly.  One.   The others were stressed-freaking-out-barking-lunging-hackles-up any time we ran into them.  What is up with that?

Having seen a wide variety of dog in the building – from tiny purse-type through to bigger-than-Gwynn – the elevator conversations I had were baffling.  I had this conversation at least 10 times over the course of 2 weeks:

Random Elevator Rider: “That’s a big dog.”

Lexy (it would be rude to disagree, I guess?): “… yup.”

RER: “Is it going to get bigger?”

Lexy (visualizing Gwynn as an orange newfie.) : “Probably not?”

no… THAT’s a big dog.

Washing dishes by hand:  better in a building (with a sink and taps) than at a campground.  Still not very fun.

Apartment laundry facilities – empty… at least at 8am on Thanksgiving Monday.

Cooking for myself:  I still really enjoy cooking. Nice to know.  Living at home, my family apparently believes that I have zero ability in the kitchen.  Away from home, I can try whatever recipe strikes my fancy… or have peanut butter and toast.

Overall, I think Gwynn and I are destined to rent/buy a main-floor unit, or closer to the ground, anyways.  Considering that housing-prices in the GTA (and, more importantly, within an hour or so of drive to my office) are bizarre and terrible right now, a condo or apartment is really my only hope of leaving home in the near future.  It’s nice to know that Gwynn and I can live in an apartment without too huge an adjustment process.

He’s Sexy and He Knows It!

On a particularly frigid September morning, we started our trek.  It only looks like I abandoned him in the woods at night – I swear it was just unnaturally dark that morning, and he left the trails with me.

Also, he isn’t a zombie…

It was cold out – I was beginning to have my doubts about the plan.  It’s only going to get colder!

I mean, look at that gorgeously hairy beast – he should clearly stay the same, for always!

He disagreed.  Last winter was unusually warm, and he spent most of his indoor time sealing drafts.  I suspect our overall house-heating-efficiency was increased just by the dog’s naps.

but how will I entertain myself without his full head of hair?

The arguments for won out in the end – Gwynn got a fall haircut.  He’s been wiggling along to LMFAO ever since, like a toddler who drank a supersized coffee and a fistfull of pixie sticks in one go, and is now running around naked in the front yard.  He lost his fur coat and he’s raring to go.

“When I walk on by, girls be looking like damn he fly”

“This is how I roll, come on ladies it’s time to go”

“When I walk in the spot (yeah), this is what I see (ok)
Everybody stops and they staring at me”

he’s sexy and he knows it

Cats: Ninja-Terrorists bent on Sleep Deprivation

The first night house-sitting, I had the brilliant idea of bringing Gwynn to stay overnight.  I figured, hey, the cats stay on the second floor pretty much 100% of the time, and I’ve yet to see hide nor hair of them in three years of dog walks and occasional house-sitting.  It’ll be fine.  No worries.

What I didn’t take into account was that these cats have an active night-life.

Two hours of Gwynn yipping and whimpering from his crate at intervals just long enough for me to believe that it was getting longer.  Two hours of the cats practicing their tap-dance routines on the second storey while Sadie paced and licked and paced and licked.

How could anyone sleep in this house?  Even without Gwynn, the amount of noise produced by three tiny felines well exceeds that of a workplace requiring hearing-protection.

I tried relocating to the basement.  The basement where the teenage son has created his personal AXE-scented nest of boydom.  I spread my sleeping bag out, lay down gingerly, ensuring that no part of me came in contact with the couch.  Gwynn’s whimpers were dying down a bit, Sadie was still restlessly pacing.

Then came what sounded like a lamp falling down, a full-grown man crashing into the tv and someone dropping pots and pans in the kitchen.  Cell-phone in one hand, bludgeoning-device in the other, I crept up the stairs, prepared to do battle against thieves.  With me in my sleep-deprived rage, those bastards stood a low chance of avoiding a trip to the hospital.

No-one was there, nothing was disturbed, and no cats were in sight.  I checked all doors, and checked upstairs to try and tell my adrenaline-high body that it’s ok to relax.

Breathing freely for the first time since I’d relocated to the AXE-swamp of a basement, I lay down on the couch, Gwynn’s leash clutched in my hand.

Sleep was within my grasp at last.  Oh sweet slumber, how I love thee.

Ten minutes later, Gwynn attempted to drag me under the side-table, where a cat sat primly just out of reach of his inquisitive nose.  Mocking me, and denying me sleep.  Terrorist.

Demon Cats

Got the cat out from under the table without interaction with dogs, tried to go back to sleep.  So. Close.

Ten minutes later, Sadie launched herself onto a chair and up the window.  Second cat bolted from behind the curtain, hissing and grumbling like marbles being ground together.  Dogs once again wide awake and wired.  Lexy half-awake and 100% not asleep, trying desperately to remember how many cats are in the house.

No apparent third cat hidden within the tiny living-room, but it’s officially 3:30 am, and I’m running on 5 minutes of light-doze, and a heaping pile of nerves.

Three?  Four?  There could be thousands of them.  Demonic Terrorist Cats… probably made of shadow and clangour.  Or maybe there’s just one.  Are there even any cats at all?  Where the hell am I?

“Here kitty kitty?  Nice kitty?”  I manage to croak out, squinting about the dark room with red-rimmed, twitching eyes.

Hearing and rejecting simultaneously, the cats began a thundering race around the upstairs, still wearing their tiny kitty tap-shoes, and dragging cans half-filled with gravel.

Evil Cat

The gravelly rrrowwwwl and simultaneous kettle-hiss of furry fury starts up again, this time from the couch.

I call the retreat.  Snatching dogs, leashes and bag, I escape the madhouse, pajama-clad and wild-haired, with the frantic energy of escape from a burning building – just another inmate running for the hills.

Can I sleep here? Please? PLEASE?!!!

Gone Campin’

There is nothing I love so much as being in the woods.  The prospect of a trip north leaves me giddy and making lists, even if it’s just for a weekend.  Since Gwynn is back up north with my family, it’s doubly exciting to go up.  After all – what’s better than the woods?  Seeing one’s pooch for the first time in a week.

It might just be one of the most wonderful things… to be greeted with such absolute love and happiness.

This trip, I drove up with some friends of Doodle’s (and mine).  One advantage of this is that we actually got some photographs of the drive up!

Another is that K has a fancy camera, an artistic eye, and an enjoyment of taking pictures.  Any pictures with unusual colouring are definitely hers.  Other pictures, it’s probably equal chances being from my camera or hers.

Fiddling with colours…

… and artistic 🙂

It was considerably chillier up there than it has been most of the summer.  And rainy, though we lucked out with clear skies friday night, saturday morning, and sunday morning.

I’m kind of in love with her camera’s selective colour options

K & S … Doodle had to work on Sunday, unfortunately, so she missed out on hiking shenanigans

Gwynn found some puddles after all that rain

He’s very good at recall lately, and we practice a lot… still, on trails in this kind of woodland, I let him drag the long-line for short stretches, and call him back often.

We had a great trip, even with the rain.  Less fun… the trip home.

two lane undivided highway + Sunday afternoon cottage traffic + an accident closing the southbound lane = usually 4 hour drive extended to nearly 7… shoot me now.

a better picture to leave you with… sometimes Gwynn chickens out after he gets up on the rocks. Or his ‘getting up’ point is too close to a very long drop for my sanity.

Goof Patrol

A friend of mine regularly uses Gwynn as an example of what a ‘real dog’ doesn’t look like, according to her and her boyfriend’s view of dogs.  Not to say that they don’t like him, just that when they think of one day getting a dog, they picture something more like a husky or german shepherd – preferably something with ears that naturally point upwards, fur that only grows to a certain length, and an enormous head.  Gwynn’s ears are floppy, and really, under all that fur, extremely tiny.  He looks exactly like the kind of goof he is, which is part of why I’m always surprised to run into people who are nervous of him.  And it’s true that there are some dogs that just seem more… doggish.  A lab of some sort, or a rottweiler, or golden retriever – there are dogs that just have the look of a dog that could, say, trek long distance and find his way home, surviving in the wilderness.

yeah… like that

Gwynn doesn’t exactly look like that dog that will drag you out of the way of a train, getting injured in the process.  Or like the kind of dog that, if he got lost in the woods, would come out unscathed and happy.  A significant proportion of the dogs on this Hero List fall into that doggish-dog category.

Gwynn is still up north with my family, soon to return from his great camping adventure.  One of my biggest concerns with this venture (apart from the possibility of him growing more attached to my mum than to me while he’s away) is the bears.  Yup, there are bears in them thar hills, and with the drought conditions we’re experiencing in Ontario this summer, they’re coming out of them hills in search of delicious cooler-shaped snacks and empty yogurt cups.  Last year, he nearly dragged me into the woods after a very surprised adolescent bear who wandered past our site.  I strongly suspect that he was yelling, “FRIEEEEENNNNNDDDDD!” as he bounded towards the innocent 200 lb youngster.  This is why he’s on leash except for at the dog park.  That, and the raccoons.

can anyone else hear “You’ve got a friend in me” by Randy Newman playing in the background of this playfest?

This summer, he’s apparently found his inner wolf.  With bears roaming the campground the past few days, he has shown himself to be a real doggish dog.

First, he dogged up and refused to let my mum go to the washroom.  He put his woof down and just said… well… “woof”.  Translated roughly as “We’re going back to our campsite, NOW!”.  She found out from the Park Wardens that there was a bear in the campsite across from the outhouses she was headed to.

Then, to confirm that this wasn’t a fluke incident of dog-needing-to-go-home-just-because, a bear found itself in the uncomfortable position of being too close to my dad for anyone’s comfort.  It probably wasn’t expecting trouble, browsing in the bushes near the campsite, far too close for comfort to my dad, whose recent knee surgery does make him somewhat of a wounded gazelle.  While my dad attempted to not have a heart attack, Gwynn took charge!

He growled and barked and growled some more, making no attempt to chase after the bear, just standing guard in front of my dad until the fiendish bear got the message, and left the vicinity.

yeah, you better run!

We’re pretty sure that the common theme here is ‘protect the family from bears!’, and not, “let’s ensure that neither of my parents have to use the outhouse again by scaring the crap out of them.”

A message to the blackbears out there in the blogosphere… us goofy dogs are on patrol, and tougher than we look!

Naked Beavers and Stripping

Despite my blatant attempt to garner more interest in my site (not to mention confuse some creepers), my post title is 100% applicable to my post.  Guesses? Anyone?  Bueler?

There is a certain freedom I find when I know the responsibility is about to be shunted to someone else.  I become… reckless.  Irresponsible.  That giddy feeling of knowing someone else will clean up the mess is probably wrong, but it feels so right.

Until Murphy comes out and roundhouse kicks you in the olfactory gland.

Footloose and fancy free, I took Gwynn to the lake for swimming nearly every day this past week.  So what if he smells a bit too much like Lake Ontario?  It’s not my problem.  It’s hers.  A week from now, anyways.

His white socks are distinctly grey because I take him to the lake and then to the dog park?  Meh.  She’ll fix it.  I can put up with a bit more sand around the house for the next few days.

And then I took him to a different beach than usual… less gravelly, more sandy, therefore dirtier, but who cares?  I’m not going to have to clean up this mess.  That was Tuesday.

Gwynn had a blast.  I had a blast.  It was a beautiful day, Gwynn was working up his courage to get four feet off the ground admirably, and I was on the beach in the sun. It was so nice out that I figured walking down the beach would be a great end to the walk.

"Boo!"

Did you know that an old enough beaver corpse will lose all of its fur, while retaining its skin in a strangely mummy-like way?  It was like the biggest naked mole rat ever, petrified in a kind of a “BOO” position.  There are no pictures.  There are NO words that fully capture how horrific this thing was.  There is no way I can pass on to you the absolute screaming disgust of watching one’s beloved dog use Jabba the Naked Beaver like a Slip’n’Slide as he tries to coat his entire body with face-first slides, in rotten beaver.

Recall?!  What Recall??

There’s no competing with the Crypt Beaver.

With only a few days before a trip to a professional… I rinsed.  Washing a dog with soap twice in one week doesn’t exactly seem like it’ll solve Gwynn’s itchy skin issues.  What smell doesn’t go away with a good soak-and-towel?  Naked-Mole-Beaver.  Yeah.

Wednesday night, and we’re going to our very first Intro to Agility class, sporting Eau-de-Rodent-Corpse.  Baby powder helped, surprisingly, though it gave his coat a strange and greasy feeling.  That’s ok, though – Babies-n-Beaver is an improvement, and he’s getting groomed on Saturday.

Sufficed to say, it was a long week.It was all made up for, though, when I passed Gwynn off to the beauteous and highly talented Madame Groomer.  She accepted the dog whose stink of corpse was mostly overridden by a few days’ time, baby powder, and returned a svelte and sleek and much nicer smelling replacement.  He smelled better than roses.  He had white patches where his white patches are supposed to be!

The Before:

how could they expect to improve on perfection?

The After!

Well... this might be better... just a bit...

Still not sure where the stripping comes into play?  Gwynn has a wire coat – his outer coat is only loosely connected, and our Groomer Extraordinaire strips that away entirely, pain free, leaving his gorgeously fluffy undercoat.  It shortens his coat without changing its natural texture when the wire coat grows back in, which allows me to grow his coat out long during the winter without it getting ridiculously matted by being too soft and fine.  For all who were web searching for any combination of Naked, Beaver, and Stripping… well… you got ’em!