Thursday, July 5, 2012

Walking the Dogs

We have a new addition to the family!  He is a sweet, little Jack Russel mix. Someone was trying to give him away outside of a department store.  I don't know why I decided to take him.  Call it fate - or a momentary lapse of good judgement.  My kids couldn't believe it, but I am soft-hearted.  And just like that, we have a new puppy.  Being "Back to the Future" fans, the kids quickly came up with a name for him.  They discussed it for all of 5 minutes.  He was too small to be a Biff, so it was settled.  Marty.  I call him, affectionately, Marty McFlea.  He's a smart little thing, and has given our older dog, Blitz something to do.  Blitz needed an apprentice.  Honestly, I was beginning to worry about him.  I think he has been hanging around the cat too long.  I caught Blitz licking his paw and washing his face the other day in a very cat-like manner.  And, on more than one occasion, I've noticed the cat come trotting up out of the woods with a fresh kill of rabbit.  Talk about confused! Anyways, back to the puppy.  He follows Blitz around, and jumps around his heels. He runs around him in circles, and plays chase with him.  It's the funniest thing to watch! Blitz outweighs him by 50 pounds, and looks like he's moving in slow motion.  So I thought that Blitz, being the very cool, obedient, older dog, would naturally be a good example during leash training. 
I decided to take the dogs and the kids to the park for a lesson.  I thought it would be a fun thing to do to break up the monotony of summer break.  Early in the morning, I loaded breakfast up in a cooler, grabbed the leashes, and off we went.  I wanted to get out early, while it was still cool, so we left before 8am. Unfortunately, our early morning trip to the park was brought to a grinding halt - road construction between our house, and our destination.  So the trip that usually takes 10 to 15 minutes took us about half an hour.  So much for getting out when it was cool!  So finally, we pulled up to the park gate, and the sign said, "Closed till Thursday".  This was Wednesday. I guess they were doing maintenance.  Darn it!  So we decided to go a nearby foot bridge which had a covered picnic table where we could eat our breakfast.  We arrived to the nicely shaded walking area.  I was pleased that we were the first ones there.  Then I realized that the picnic area was on the other side of the bridge. (sigh) So off we go - the lunch cooler on wheels, 3 kids, two dogs, and a loooong narrow bridge.  Maybe this was not the best setting for the high energy puppy to practice his leash skills.  And to top it off, my oldest son was on his bike.  At first he wanted to jump on and zoom down the bridge. After looking at the deep slope of the bridge, the narrow clearance of his handle bars, and the rocky creek running under it, he reconsidered.  So my oldest son led the way, walking his bike, and my youngest was in front of me, so I could keep an eye on him.  I had Blitz on a leash, and my daughter, behind me, had Marty.  As we made our way across the bridge, Marty wanted to lick ankles, and hop around and play with Blitz.  My daughter did a pretty good job keeping him under control.  We got almost halfway there, and Blitz panicked - guess he's scared of heights. Heck of a time to find that out!  My normally calm, well behaved German Shepherd mix went bailing off the side of the bridge like a stock broker on Black Tuesday, almost taking me with him.  Thinking fast, I hit the deck.  I was able to lean over the side to give him enough slack not to hang him.  Then I had to jump down, with him onto the grassy bank.  I walked him to the picnic area the long way around.  My kids finished their trek across the bridge with mom shouting, "Be sure to hold on to the railing!"  We finally made it to the other side to eat breakfast.   
We enjoyed our morning, walking around with the dogs under the tall oaks. The kids thew rocks in the creek, and played in the grass.  It was fairly cool.  When the sun rose a bit higher, the temperature rose quickly, so we decided to pack up and leave.  After our ride home, the dogs were more than eager to get out of the truck, and off their leashes.  They got a nice treat for being good sports.  Even though the morning didn't turn out quite like I expected, Marty's first leash lesson was, well, a bit of an adventure.  And we made a good summer memory with our brave new addition to the Sanders Family.

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