Fun Saturday in Maine

On Saturday morning, Chico and I went to the Bridgeton, ME Framers Market with a friend of mine. Ours.

It was threatening rain and I was told that the market was not as big as it sometimes is, but it was very nice, with plenty of variety and agreeable, knowledgeable, vendors. Bread, goat products, veggies, hand made soaps, flowers – all the essentials were there.

Chico at the bread stand. My friend held Chico’s leash while I made my purchase. He could see me, but not be with me. In an email, she reported that “While I was holding him at Farmers Market he was being very good when two little boys came over to pet him. He seemed very concerned about what to do, but just sat and let them introduce themselves. ‘Chico, my name is Trevor. ……and I pet him like this’ as he showed a flat and very gentle hand.” I’m so sorry I missed seeing (or even better, videoing) that.

Meeting strangers isn’t Chico’s strong suit and the fact that he accepted petting from unfamiliar small children, while being held by someone other than me, well, that’s just plain awesome for this dog.

Later we went to see J&E who were lunching on their porch with their eight month old Rat Terrier, Ruby. J kindly made me a sandwich which I ate while the humans chatted and the dogs worked things out. Chico is pretty much a Grumpy Grandpa when it comes to playful puppies, and he let Ruby know he had no desire to play. She kept trying. J&E are super relaxed dog owners, so the tension level was low. The dogs never quite managed to play, but by the same token, things never got ugly either. There was a fascinating canine miscommunication – the ‘talking’ noises that Chico makes to complain about a situation (need a cookie, don’t like where we are or don’t like what’s happening) are pretty much exactly the same sounds a Rat Terrier makes when inviting another dog to play. My take is that Chico was saying something to the effect of  “Umm, please get this little dog to leave me alone. Failing that, can we please move to the next destination?” while Ruby was hearing something that she interpreted as “Oh, yeah, I know what you mean. Sure c’mon, let’s mix it up a bit. Play fighting only, right?” We sent Ruby outside to play with the other dog at that house, a big, sweet German Shepherd named Xena while we finished our conversation.

And because it was Saturday in the summer, we squeezed in one more activity: canoeing. Ever since the trip to Algonquin Park in May (where I saw dogs riding in canoes packed with camping gear), I’ve been wanting to see how Chico felt about the idea.

The answer is, he thought canoeing was a fine idea. Sounds like fun, let’s go and all that. I flipped the canoe over onto its keel on land, asked him to get in and he hopped right in. I gave him a very high-value treat and dragged the canoe to the water. The put-in is a ramp, I pulled the canoe parallel to the ramp and invited Chico in. He hopped right in. I rocked the canoe a little and he was utterly un-phased, so I got in and paddled away.

The neighbors were on their dock, with the camera to record their family fun, and they got a couple of pictures of me and Chico:

That goofy look on my face? That’s because I am both ecstatic that Chico was so ready to do this and stunned that it was so easy.*

We paddled for fifteen or twenty minutes, with Chico calmly looking around him,

like this, but not panting. He did not react to dogs barking across the lake or to other watercraft, he just looked around. And accepted the occasional, small, piece of steak.*

After a while, he was ready to lie down and relax, but that didn’t provide enough visual stimulation, or maybe security, so he was back up again pretty quick.

I’m hoping to put together a day long, lazy paddling, flat-water, canoe trip down a local river after tourist season wanes. As long as the canoe company permits, it looks like Chico will be able to come float with us.

*Pictures courtesy of Jill & John Bates.

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One Response to Fun Saturday in Maine

  1. Dan Margherita says:

    Your “grumpy grandpa” characterization rang true for our dog, Merlin, who just spent a week at Lake Murray near Columbia, SC. The Mer is coming up on 13 years old but held his own with our daughter’s dog (4, I think) and our son’s two dogs (both 1). He doesn’t move very fast but he held his own!

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