“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dogs just want to have fun

Ruby and I attended a Schutzhund ("Dogsport") seminar recently near Hamilton. Hamilton is about 2 hours drive from home, and rather than drive to and from the training field each day, I wanted to stay down there. There are very few places that allow you to bring or keep your dog with you at your accomodation, so I was considering camping in the tent. Instead, I had the good fortune to be invited to stay at the home of a couple of the Dogsport NZ members. They have a large property, and Ruby had fun running through the tall grass on her morning walk. She slept in her crate in the truck, and I slept on a pullout sofa bed. We were both totally pooped from training most of the day. Also, there was a BBQ afterwards, where I got to know the other club members better, and learn a new drinking game that goes "one frog- fell in- the pond- plop". As you go around the table, each person says one part of that. Then it starts again, only now there's two people who have to say "two frogs" in a row, and so on. I think we got to 5 frogs at best. Anyway, I felt very grateful to be hosted by these Kiwis. That was just so nice of them, considering that we didn't know each other! I attended several Schutzhund seminars when I lived in California, but I don't remember ever enjoying this level of camaraderie.
And of course, this being New Zealand, we had rain and sun. The seminar covered tracking (on grass, see above), protection (see below), and obedience.

The photo above shows me and Ruby with Bernhard Flinks. I really liked him, and his son. They were here from Germany for the seminar. Ruby is doing really well in the sport, and would do better if I could spend more time with her training. Unfortunately, I hurt tailbone by running backwards into the corner bumper of a neighbor's parked SUV during training in front of my house. I couldn't see it, but Darin told me I had the darkest bruise he's ever seen on me, and I bruise really easily. It is still painful and healing, so I had to back off the training for awhile.

I finally got to go to Spookers! Spookers is a year-round, dedicated haunted house. We went on Friday the 13th, and the line was huge when we arrived at 8:30. We were entertained during our wait to get in by chainsaw weilding freaks and and other weirdo carachters. We went through the haunted house and the corn maze (cornevil), and the house was definitely better. I got plenty of screaming out of my system. My biggest screams were for the "dentist" who cornered me.

I finished the book Merle's Door, which I loved because the author carefully examined the dog's point of view, which, to be fair, is not "every dog's" point of view. He had a very special dog and lifestyle that not everyone can emulate. I cried at the end, because the story hit a bit too close to home. My old Rottweiler, Fargo, is having pain after exercise/play. He is only 9.5 years old, so I expect to get another few years out of him, but he has to take Rimadyl now daily. Darin and I took him into the vet last week after her was crying when trying to walk, and only wanted to sit. He didn't want to eat, was panting and drooling- all signs of stress and pain. While the x-rays showed only minor changes in his spine and hip, the vet thought that he may have partial tear of his cruciate ligament (knee) on both legs. Poor old guy, he still has plenty of life left in him, but is going to be forced to have no fun play or exercise for several months. If one or both tear completely, the only choice then is surgery or euthanasia (shudder). I chose surgery for my beloved Bacchus when his gastrocnemious muscle tore at age 5. But he was still young, whereas Fargo, approaching 10, might not be appropriate for surgery. Let's not go there, ok? Fargo is shown below in our farm pond. I love you, buddy.

For any of you vet-curious readers, let me direct you to my favorite pet/vet blog, Dolittler. Good insight and always lots of interesting comments. Go read.