Archives

Too Many Dogs!


Bernese Mountain Dog.  Photo Courtesy of www.praisephotography.com

“Want to come with us to the dog park?” I asked Katie.  The words “dog” and “park” are just a couple sounds that make Lila’s ears perk up.

“The dog park stinks,” said Katie.  Not only did Lila’s ears bounce again at the sounds of those words, so did she.

“Plus, I need coffee.”   Luckily, there is a Caribou Coffee on the way.

“We can get coffee on the way!”  I said.  Lila and I can count the number of times Katie has been to the dog park on one paw.  We were happy to have the company.

Lila continued to jump up every once in a while as she watched us search for our sunglasses, hats, mittens and boots.

Lila went straight to the van after I opened the garage door.  When we arrived at the coffee shop, we had to leave Lila alone for a few minutes.  I try not to leave her alone in the van, but she handled the short abandonment very well and the inside of the van was intact after we got back.

Lila started her whiney cry as we got closer to the park.

“What’s the matter?”  Katie asked.  “Is she always like this?”

“Yes, she’s excited.”  The closer we get to the park, the louder the whining gets.

“It’s crowded,” said Katie.

I opened the door, and instructed Lila to go to the gate.  I’ve learned to just let Lila find her way by herself once we arrive.  The times I’ve tried to leash her up and hold her back have not been very good on my sciatic nerve.

Lila barked at the gate as if she were instructing me to hurry.

“I’m coming,” I said while I watched her jump, almost as high as the top of the gate.

“Did you see that lab jump?” a lady commented to her friend.  People are always amazed.

Lila ran fast towards the pink tennis ball after I chucked it across the park.  Even though we haven’t had any snow for a while, the snow at the dog park is still a bright white, all except for the little yellow spots that can be seen here and there.  We followed Lila along the worn away path.

“Do those boots have any sort of grip on the bottom?”  I asked Katie as I looked at her Uggs.  It seemed as if I could walk faster with my unfashionable boots that didn’t slide about.

“No, they’re kind of hard to walk in on the snow,” said Katie.

Lila still does not drop the ball for me, but when other dogs greeted Lila she abandoned the ball and forgot where she left it.  I was able to grab it quick, and Lila noticed right away.

“Don’t even try to keep up, Howie,” a man said to his little dog.  Howie and the man watched Lila run after the tennis ball.

It was nice to be outside and enjoying the day.  All the hustle and bustle of the holidays didn’t leave much time for me to be outside with the dog.  The sunny, blue sky and the white snow made the dog park seem fresh and clean.  One of the joys of winter is that the usual bad smells are frozen.

As a Bernese mountain dog came running towards us on its way to Lila, Katie commented on how she liked the smaller dogs.  Another lab joined us all at the park and had somehow gotten Lila’s pink tennis ball.  For a minute I had a hard time telling the two labs apart.

“Ricky, that’s not yours,” I heard a lady say.  Ricky dropped the ball, ran and jumped up to lick a lady on her face.  I remembered back to the day when Lila used to do that to practically everyone she met.  Ricky made Lila look like a good girl!

“Can we go now?” Katie asked.  “There are just too many dogs here!”  Lila was ready to go too.  We went on our way, Katie still holding her Caribou coffee cup in her hand.

Advertisements

Snow Brightens Up the Gloom!

This morning when I let Lila outside, we were greeted by the freshly fallen snow that covered the dull and brown grass. Lila happily licked the ground getting a mouthful of the wet, cold stuff. Her big strides around the tree sadly made her leash wrap up to limit her “freedom.” I found my boots and went outside to get her. Lila dashed inside and watched me as I unraveled the leash. My footsteps and her paw prints marked up the once untouched blanket of snow.

Inside, Lila looked up at us as if to wonder why we were busy huddling over papers: Dad with the newspaper, Laura with photos and me with a cookbook searching for a mint cookie recipe that can be made quickly. Lila looked as if she couldn’t understand us. Why didn’t we want to go outside and play in the snow?

So I pulled on all the things I needed to keep me warm and cozy. When I opened the door to the garage, Lila bolted towards the van, the only vehicle around right now where Lila is allowed to enter. After I opened the large door to the garage, we were on our way. As I backed up, the tires crunched down the snow in the driveway. I was thankful that the streets had already been plowed.

As we got closer to the dog park, Lila started her usual whining and bouncing about. Sometimes her ears twitched to the sounds of the Christmas music coming from the dashboard. After we arrived, we noticed many other canine and human friends. People were hunched over with parka hoods trying to keep the flying snow out of their eyes. The snow was piling up on their shoulders and hoods making them look like walking snowmen.

20121209_102007The Outskirts of the Dog Park

The friendly dogs waited by the gate ready to greet Lila. Lila barked and jumped so high that she could almost go over the fence. When I got the gate open, Lila greeted a couple of dogs and anxiously looked at me because she wanted me to chuck the Chuck-It.  She whined at me again, but so did Rex. Rex, a smaller black dog, that looked to be part pit bull, was ready for me to chuck the tennis ball too.

“Ok, ready?” I asked. Now four anxious eyes looked up at me. I knew Lila could outrun Rex. I chucked the ball, and they ran. Lila was in the lead and got the ball. Oops, Lila dropped the ball. Rex got it. Lila came back to me, still all smiles, but without a ball.

“Oops,” I said, as I saw Rex run off, lay down with the ball in between his front paws licking away at whatever disgusting things might be stuck to it. Rex stood up, shook his head back and forth, just the way Lila does, and as if to say, “I got it!” Rex with the ball made Rex happy.

20121209_102156Lila Running and Searching

“Go find another ball, Lila.” Lila ran to the usual spots, but today it was more difficult for her with all the fresh snow masking what she can usually sniff out right way. I followed her, and could not see one either. We circled around the park a couple more times enjoying the wintry wonderland still without a ball in sight and Rex still clinging onto the one I threw.

20121209_102109Everything Smells Like Snow Today!

“I’m going to go get a ball from the van,” I told Lila. She sat down close to the gate and waited patiently, her eyes following me the entire time. I found one, grabbed it with the Chuck-It, and Lila bounced about again, as if she were a ball. Just as I was about to chuck it, Rex greeted us again, our first ball lost or forgotten. I thought about how pit bulls can get a bad rap, but Rex was a fine dog that just wanted to play.

I threw the ball, and Lila ran off fast, got it and held it tight this time. Rex went away to mind his own business. As I walked around the park again, Lila ran back and forth swinging her head from side to side, happy to have the tennis ball. The next time I looked, the ball was gone, but she did not complain. She ran in the snow following the other dogs around. One time I lost sight of her, and she came back to me from behind having run around the entire park by herself and all out of breath.

20121209_102127Lila Running to Show Off the Tennis Ball

All the dogs seemed to be happier with the welcomed change of scenery. Last year, we didn’t get enough snow to run around and lose things in. This winter is turning out to be different, so far. The snow brightened up the gloom and made for some happy dogs and humans who had fun just playing in the snow.

Lila Figured Out She’s Home

Last year when Lila first came to live with us, thunderstorms didn’t bother her. She sat outside on the front porch and watched the lightning, and felt the earth rumble without one shake of a leg or turn of an ear. Lila just sat and watched the rain as it poured down ready to be soaked up into the ground or to join the creek at the end of our street.

Now this spring when we started to hear the rumblings of our first thunderstorm of the season, Lila panted and paced about the house as if she couldn’t decide if she was supposed to go somewhere. Every time my husband made a move, Lila would be right there, on his heels panting.

“It’s okay, girl,” he would say. She sat by his side as he petted her ear trying to make her feel better.

When it was time to go to bed, Lila was right on my husband’s heels again even though she never sleeps with us. We thought she was one who wasn’t bothered by the storms and we couldn’t figure out what happened. What changed? We thought it was so cool last year when she didn’t even flinch at the booming thunder.

The next day I joked to my friend about how Lila had changed, that she was not the dog that we thought she was and that she had made a complete change when it came to thunderstorms.

“Maybe she’s used to you now. Maybe she was worried about you,” she said.

I smiled a very big smile. I was surprised that what seemed like a courageous dog was just scared now because she actually cares about us. It was just another way that I realized that Lila figured out that she is a part of our family even though it took her a very long time to do so.

When Lila had been living with us for a few months, I thought that there was something wrong with her. Lila didn’t show the signs of love that dogs usually show when they become part of a pack. I looked into her brown eyes, and they seemed like they were not connecting with me. Her eyes looked cold. She sometimes barked and snapped at us like she wanted to be in charge. I didn’t think that she knew how to wag her tail to show happiness at seeing us after being away for just a few minutes or for a long time.

It seemed like she was just as happy to see any human who was at the dog park as she was to see me or any other members of her pack. Everyone thought she was so friendly, but I just thought she didn’t know how to love us yet, and I wondered if she ever would. There were times when I called her name at the dog park, and she didn’t come to me, and that made me very nervous.

Then one day she barked from our front steps when she saw me coming home, and that’s when I knew she got it. The closer I got to her, the faster her tail wagged. She was really happy to see me, and I was so happy to be seen.

I also noticed that she stopped running after all the humans at the dog park to try to get their attention. She played with and greeted other dogs, and then she made sure that she walked with me. When I called her name, she came to me. Now she listens. She figured it out. Now I know that there’s not anything the matter with her at all. She was just trying to see if we were going to keep her here. And we are keeping her here, and she’s here to stay, big fur piles flying across the kitchen floor and all the other stuff that goes with a dog who figured out she’s finally home.