With a fresh foot or so on the ground, I had the privilege of breaking the trail yesterday.
But, oh, the running back and forth on the way back!
There really has been a lot of snow lately.
The other day, between storms, the plow guy sent the front loader to push back and move snow from right by the house to the snow mountain at the end of the driveway.
The guy is an artist with that big thing. He tapped down the snow so the heat exchangers can breathe.
He made me a place to access the snow shoe path through the field.
And he cleared as close to the truck as he possibly could have without scraping it.
I’m so grateful that I have lots of space to put the extra snow, and that someone comes with a big machine and moves it there for me.
Bonney loves this, I think she would do it until she dropped.
As is so often the case, Chico played sheriff. Our dog pal Maggie was not as interested in this game as Bonney, but they both loved chasing snowballs.
The first dozen times I shoveled snow this winter I thought I was gonna lose my mind. Bonney barked at the shovel; she leapt up in the air to slam her paws into a shovel full of snow, spilling it everywhere – the human couldn’t get anything done without crating her or tying her to the porch railing (where she was silent – go figure).
We worked with treats for being quiet, and I got her pretty civilized.
Then yesterday we discovered a great new game. She climbs up on a snow mound, and as I fling the snow over her way, she makes a giant, twisting leap to try and catch some of the snow in her mouth. Like those dogs that catch frisbees.
OK, that doesn’t sound nearly as fun as it actually is. I’ll try to rig my camera and get some video of it the next time we shovel.
This is my first attempt at capturing the action. I need better camera placement.
Chico is about twelve years old.
Last night I took him in for a turn in Bonney’s “Empowerment” class. Most of the dogs in the group are younger, like Bonney, and the idea is to let them develop a desire to explore new things in a confident way. Strange sounds, sudden movements – if they learn to associate surprise with happy surprise, their whole life is just easier; and if they are going to do dog sports, it’s a real good start to all that they will be learning.
Chico stood with his front paws on a Lazy Susan while it spun. He balanced on fitness equipment. He wiggled his body through the opening created by the arm of a turned over plastic patio chair. His sister couldn’t do that.
Julie recorded us working on the chair:
Old dogs do learn new things, and it keeps them young.
good girl named Bonney just sat like a princess on my dad’s favorite arm chair, while I sat on the footstool, and we played a fun game of “let’s clip your nails.”
She’s not yer demanding I do it, but she’s in the game.
Venerable Chico took the long way to the woods path this afternoon, drawing my attention to the western sky.
That boy, always improving my life.
Love Chico’s shadow, love the way the tree trunk has absorbed heat from the sun and made a little snow-free space for itself, love snow shoe season.
It’s Chico’s “Got’cha Day” – seven years ago, I met my sister at the Danbury Fair Shopping Center in Danbury, CT (half way between DC and NH), had a bite of lunch, put Chico and his crate in my car, drove home, and my life changed. For the better. Immeasurably so. Permanently.
He’s about twelve now. The vet says he has no joint problems that would keep him from continuing to be active in dog sports. As long as I keep him from getting fat, keep his toenails trimmed, and we keep walking that hour-plus a day, he’s going to be fine for a long while.
Add this to the list of intended posts for 2016 that didn’t quite make it to fruition until now.
In late November, we went to the Thanksgiving Cluster in West Springfield, Mass. I swore I wasn’t going to go, but I went to help with a fund raiser for a friend, so I entered both dogs.
Chico ran Jumpers with Weaves and my goal was for me to stay calm enough that he wouldn’t die on the start line – that’s how he shows that he’s feeling my stress, which is usually caused by waiting for our turn. It’s a tough one to unwind. Anyhow, we got it right because the standard course time was 50 seconds, and we went through in 35.8 (or was it 38.5? No matter really). An off-course, muffed weave poles and something else that I now forget, but I had a fast, happy, almost 12 year old, dog. Winner, winner, chicken dinner! I was walking on air for a good twenty minutes.
Then Bonney did a very short course in Novice Jumpers, and had two runs in the non-competitive, after hours, B Match. I have video of her first run, which includes what I realize was a kinda mean trick – I didn’t give her a chance to explore the seesaw before she ran it, and it was full height, something that was pretty new to her at that point. You can tell by the way she flies off that she was totally surprised. But I think she made an excellent recovery.
Sadly, there is not video of the spectacular fall I took when she ran around a jump and right between my legs in the second run. I cued the jump, honest I did. Voice and body. But it seems I needed to hold that send-to-jump position a fraction of a second longer to assure her commitment to the jump. I moved and she came with me. They call that handler focused. Or they say your dog has a lack of obstacle commitment.