Cura and I have been together since 2009. We want to thank all of you who followed the early days as well as those who popped back on occasion during the long hiatus. Training was done, the days passed, and we were settling into our life together.
Fast forward: Cura is slowing down and a new member of the family is in training. On top of that, we are all busy with our new calling . . . Running the Training Department for Paws and Stripes. Join us on our journey!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Puppy Plunge!

Our local pool did a WONDERFUL thing for the residents and their dogs . . .

With the pool closing for the season, they invited local residents to bring their canine companions with them to enjoy the facilities. Below is a short video of the puppy antics that ensued. Both Cura and Skye proved to be quite good swimmers. This is not really surprising since Cura is supposed to have Black Lab in her -- can you say 'webbed feet'? -- and Cairn Terriers are also quite capable of swimming, though not all of them are thrilled with the prospect. (It appears that Skye currently falls into the NOT thrilled category!)

The day after their swimming adventure, poor puppies in this household were still recovering! They were clearly feeling the effects of exerting muscles that they were not even aware that they had! They not only slept well the night of their swim, but were happy to be quite lazy the next day. I have never seen Cura tire so quickly on a run! She only managed full speed for a few minutes -- usually she is maxing out the golf car speed and trying to pull it down the road! This time she paced it at full speed on the way out, but soon slowed. By the time we were pulling back into the driveway (a relatively short time later), she was barely trotting! Apart from Training Class later that day, all she did was sleep. Have you ever been so tired that eating and other necessary functions are just too much effort -- well, that was Cura after the Puppy Plunge. But she has recovered now and is, once again, eager to go for her morning run!

The Puppy Plunge was actually a great opportunity for Cura and me on several levels. First, it gave me a chance to find out just how much of the Lab's love for water Cura had inherited. Up until now, her exposure to water consisted of rinsing the dirt out of her from her play dates, cooling her feet in the kiddy pool out back and getting misted after a run (MUST get that little ritual on film!), rain, and the groomer -- no full body immersion! And, while Cura definitely has the webbing between her toes that would make it easier for her to make good time in the water, that doesn't mean she can swim. As an example -- there were a couple of dogs in the pool that LOOKED like they had some Lab in them and would take to water well, but the reality of their situation was just the opposite (there is one in the background of the video). Go ahead, give in to the urge . . . replay the video -- I'll wait!

As you can see in the clip, Cura swims just fine (though, as I noted, she is not overly thrilled about the lack of solid ground under her feet!) I am going to have to look into finding a place that she can swim more frequently. Hmmm -- can dog's read your mind? I'd swear she just gave me a 'look' -- not actually a 'dirty look' but not exactly a thrilled one either!

Anyway -- back to the opportunities . . .

It also gave Cura practice at not reacting to other dogs. I decided not to let Cura off the lead for several reasons. First, the fences were not very tall and there is still the jumping issue which is certainly improving but not yet resolved. Second, I want to be more comfortable about my 'introduction' skills before I handle something like that without backup. Third, it wasn't a 'bad' day physically, but it wasn't a good one either. Finally, the fourth, and most important reason is because running should not be allowed around a pool! If Cura had been off-lead, she would have joined in on the numerous games of chase that were taking place around the pool.

I am sure everyone who has spent time at a pool remembers hearing the LifeGuard's whistle blow followed by the clear bellow 'NO RUNNING!' Now, there is a reason for this. For some reason, the concrete surrounding any pool I have EVER been to becomes slippery enough to have a Curling contest! (I didn't know what this was until I went to Scotland -- check out the next Winter Olympics, it is an ice sport.) Suffice it to say, one could severely damage themselves by slipping on the surfaces around a public pool! This applies to EVERYONE -- four-footed fuzzies or two-legged youngsters. I saw at least three dogs come barreling around the pool only to lose their footing and slide for a foot or two on their face or chest! Fortunately, they all appeared to be none the worse for wear, but I didn't want to chance it with Cura. The visual of a dog sliding along the ground on its face may seem cartoonishly funny in theory, but the reality is very different even if the dog isn't yours!

So, Cura got to swim when she was in the pool and quietly sit and watch but not react to the other dogs when she was out of the pool. My job . . . practice setting boundaries! It was my job to keep all the other dogs from coming up to Cura and bothering her. I am getting better at this -- my confidence is returning, thanks to the persistence, understanding, and creative guidance I get from Rick and Heather. I still need some work, but at least now I am more confident about practicing on my own!

Final verdict? The Puppy Plunge was a great success! We are looking forward to next year!