Thursday, April 22, 2010

How to Lose (a Stick) Gracefully

Comet is an utterly charming dog. He spends much of his day assuming something completely awesome is about to happen. At this particular moment, he’s completely correct, since Andy is holding a loaded Chuck-It and is about to launch a tennis ball.

He can also get some serious air when the need arises, like when his owner piles debris in such a way that it’s impossible to go under a log. My favorite part about this photo is that Comet is looking at me instead of at his landing spot.

As you can see in the previous picture, Jax isn’t far behind. While Comet prefers to clear barriers without touching them, Jax prefers to jump to the top of a log and get as much height and distance as he can.

As Jax reaches maturity, he and Comet seem more a matched set. Comet’s still faster in an all-out sprint, but Jax is a feisty competitor when it comes to stick fetching, and frequently a game of fetch ends with the stick rather inefficiently brought back by both dogs at the same time.

So, even when Comet beats Jax to the stick, sometimes it’s Jax who ends up with it on the retrieve.

Sometimes you don’t get the stick, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a bad sport. Maybe if you lose, it’s time to run around without a stick and just enjoy the grass and the sun.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sort of a Dog Flotilla

In what has become a little bit of a regular habit, we met Jill at West Thompson again, and this time, we were joined by not just Jill’s four, but three others who belong to friends of Jill, for a grand total of nine dogs, seven of whom are Golden Retrievers.

In no particular order:
Jax, Golden Retriever
Comet, Golden Retriever
Copley, Golden Retriever
Tango, Golden Retriever
Tally, Golden Retriever
Finn, Golden Retriever
Rumford, Golden Retriever
Yuki, Boxer
Leo, Portuguese Water Dog

This time, Tango was able to come along, and given how driven she is, it’s impressive that Jax was able to keep this stick away from her for as long as he did.

Finn, now seven, races around with the younger dogs. Sometimes he moves so quickly and smoothly that he barely looks like he touches the ground. And, sometimes, he really doesn’t touch the ground.

Sticks were definitely the toy du jour, and Leo the PWD more than held his own.

It was really a digital camera day, with perfect sun and a combination of dogs and action that was—not mathematically, but for all intents and purposes—infinite.

Jax isn’t a big dog, but he does everything with as much height as possible. He’s always springing and leaping about, and if he notices friends a few hundred feet away playing with a stick, the first thing he’ll do is rear up and get a better look before he puts on the afterburners.

Young Copley is growing up, but he’s still in the prime of puppyhood, which means zoomies are a key part of his experience on a walk. He’s at the age when total discombobulation is a common occurrence. Copley is a lot less awkward than a typical puppy just shy of five months, but he can still look pretty silly sometimes.

Rumford’s also in that gangly adolescent stage, and just as prone to zooming about like a crazed animal. Rummy also had his first real swim on this walk. It’s always a joy to watch a young dog go from deep apprehension about the water to an abiding love for it.

Tally was more than happy to show the young dogs how it’s done. One of many fun things about Tally is that he nearly always looks like he’s leaping off the page of an L. L. Bean catalog.

Friday, April 2, 2010

How We Drowned a Phone

Andy and I did a little exploring, and we found a brand new place to take the dogs. As usual, I won’t mention the best little locations like this one online, because I have an irrational fear that hordes of people will descend upon my favorite quiet spaces. Since the number of people who read this blog is in the hundreds, not the millions, I think I’m safe, but you never know.

(Update: Since switching the site over to Blogger, I've taken to tagging locations, so in this updated version of the post, I've tagged this entry as the Woodbridge Land Trust).

Anyway, this new little place has a little river that runs through it, and the dogs are highly enthusiastic about a walk that includes a field, a river, a swamp, then the river again, then the field again, and then the car. Andy and I are enthusiastic too, since the dogs can get muddy, get clean again in the river, and then dry off a bit fetching in the field before we go back in the car.

One other little quirk of this location and its river is that the river is the outflow of a drinking water reservoir, and as such, its level is subject to the whims of the local water company, not nature. After some heavy rains, the water company released an immense amount of water, and just after these pictures, both dogs washed downstream and fetched up against a log. Andy was on one side of the river, and I was across it, taking these pictures.

In about a twenty second span of time, I dropped my camera, opened the buckle on the camera bag and let it fall, and jumped waist-deep into freezing water. Comet washed under the log on his own. Andy jumped in, lost his footing, was doused to the neck, and hauled Jax out by the collar.

The only casualty of the day: Andy’s phone. All in all, I consider it a fair trade.