A really companionable and indispensable dog is an accident of nature. You can't get it by breeding for it, and you can't buy it with money. It just happens along."
~ E B White, The Care and Training of a Dog
A Walk in the Woods
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A DOG IN SEARCH OF A DOG PARK
11 July 2004
The city of Davis must certainly have a potential lawsuit on its hands. At least the opportunity for a potential lawsuit. I would hope that dog owners will be too wise and too cautious to actually do what the city recommends.
For a change of pace, Sheila and I went walking in a new area yesterday. I had read that there was a "dog park" in this particular park. When I rode bike with Cindy every morning, before my accident, we rode through this park every day and I didnt remember seeing anything which looked like a dog park.
Sheila was on leash and we wandered around until we finally found the "park." Actually, its an "exercise area" where dogs can run free.
But get this:
What is wrong with this picture?
I would even hesitate to take Snickers, the amazingly well-behaved dog I saw in Wizard of Oz this week, into this free run area. All it takes is for one toddler to shriek at the wrong pitch just once and you have a potential disaster on your hands.
No, thank you, I'll wait for the fenced-in version!
(Interestingly, this is one of the locations considered for a permanent fenced dog park but parents of kids who go to the school are protesting that it's too close to the school--I wonder if they have ever noticed that right now, dogs can legally run free with no fence!)
Sheila really wanted to go investigate the kids, but occurred to me that I've never seen her with kids. I know she lived with kids in the foster home where she was placed before we got her, but I really have no feel for how she is with children, so we kept a wide berth.
I decided to take the opportunity to do some training bits while we were in the park, but there were entirely too many distractions and after she realized that just coming to me when I called her wasn't enough, but that I also expected her to sit--and stay--she essentially flipped me the bird and went on sniffing the next pile of poop, which was apparently much more appealing than the liver biscotti at the end of my fingers.
They say that intelligent dogs want to be challenged, that they live to please. Yeah. Right. Sheila lives to please Sheila.
After the latest chair-chewing incident (see left) yesterday, I decided that I need help with obedience training, so I called our vet for a recommendation. I was pointed in the direction of a woman who holds an obedience class each Saturday morning and made plans to join the class at 11:30 this morning
Before we met with her, we went out for our morning walk. This time I took Sheila down to the marsh where Cindy and I used to ride every morning. Poor dog so desperately wants to run, but she is getting resigned to walking on the leash. However that still doesn't stop her from leaping in the air and grabbing the leash in her mouth whenever she sees something she wants to chase after (which only happens once every 5 minutes or so!)
We stopped at the supermarket on the way home and loaded up on doggie treats--and a little bit of food for the bipeds in the house as well. I bought Sheila a tug-o-war rope so she can have something other than the chair to pull on. At least she's very good to leave in the car. She just waits patiently. And since she's a horrible watchdog, she'd probably lick anybody who'd open the door to the car and drive off in it! ("Oh. Are you going to be my new owner? OK.")
At the appointed hour, we went down to the little park where the obedience class was to be held. I had been told by our vet to arrive early, but there was no instructor there yet. Instead there was a woman with a lab-pit bull mix, also an SPCA dog, whom she has had for about 3 months. This was her second class.
She kind of filled me in on how the class works and we compared notes on where to walk the dogs off leash (she gave me an idea about the drainage channel--starting at the other end, away from the busy street. I may try that).
As we waited for the instructor, a guy arrived with a Ridgeback puppy, and I was able to see that when Sheila met her puppy, they really did recognize each other. It wasn't just some innate sense of motherhood that kicked in on seeing a puppy. She liked the Ridgeback, but there was no "motherly" action, nor did she act motherly around the little lab puppy who arrived later.
It was easy to see, however, that Sheila was by far the most active and hyper of all the dogs who were there. At one point she discovered that by the proper twist of her body, she could slip out of her leather collar. So today it's back to Petco to get a choke chain for her for when she's out in public! (I was just lucky that she was so intent on investigating the puppy that I was able to slip her collar back on her again, or I might still be chasing her).
Eventually someone discovered a sign, tacked to a tree, saying that the class had been cancelled for today, so there was no obedience class after all. But we made lots of 2 and 4-legged contacts and got a feel for how it all works and what it costs ($85 for 7 sessions...this dog is becoming a money pit!). I think it's going to be a good experience, if we ever actually get to a class (next week we will be at the family reunion and can't go then either).
Saw this female egret flying at the marsh today--