I’m taking a break from my Thursday evening agility class for a few weeks. Mainly because doing that drive twice a week during the evening rush hour – I also go to lessons on Wednesday night – was starting to make me want to scratch my eyes out. Or get a gun. Or fantasize what it would look like to ram another car. All that while simultaneously becoming more and more paranoid about being rear-ended. It becomes extremely apparent just how much people tailgate when you have a short-backed vehicle.
Anyway, the break makes me feel like I’m even more on vacation than I already am. I know. How is that even possible?
I wanted to get JaYoBaCa out for a nice long romp since I had nowhere to be for the rest of the day. Had several ideas, but held out on any decisions until after I finished a cup of coffee. No worries, the dogs ate their breakfast while I fixed coffee and then got to partake of their morning dollops of cream when I poured some into my coffee. Yes, my dogs are pretty spoiled. Everyone gets a dollop of cream on the mornings I make coffee at home.
I think they sensed it wasn’t going to a lazy day at home. Probably me taking a shower right after the cup of coffee was a big clue. (Youke: “Hmmmm, something’s up. She usually takes a shower much, much later in the day.”)
I used to ask the dogs, “wanna go for a ride?” but that solicited such a loud and chaotic response, I had to stop saying it. Now I ask them if they are “ready for adventure?” The multi-syllables seems to throw them off a bit. The response is a bit quieter.
Just getting in the car is a bit of an adventure. First, there’s the catapult down the stairs to the garage. We’ve all learned to stay out of Jasmine’s way for that part. Then there’s the swirl around the door while I select a pair of shoes and the rush into the garage when the door is opened. Jasmine and Camm proceed to bark loudly about how long it’s taking me. By then, maybe 45 seconds have passed. And that’s only if I had to think about foot attire.
While I put on my foot attire, the two girls continue to bark and/or Camm circles the jeep trying to figure a way to get in herself. Good thing little girlfriend doesn’t know how to drive. We’d all be left behind. Meanwhile, Youke and Brady encircle me with their love while I’m trying to put on my shoes. That involves posturing about who is the favorite, who loves the human more and who can stare deeply into my eyes the longest and with the most adoration. I usually solve this dilemma by reminding Youke that he is the best and goodest boy. The best black and white boy. Then I turn to Brady and quickly inform him that he is the best boy. The best red and white boy. And don’t think they’re on to this yet.
Camm always insists she is the first to get in the car. I’m pretty sure this is so she can get the best spot. (Camm: “I have a sparkly personality and should be first in all the things.”)
What follows next is a cacophony of barks, shrills and screams. Except from Youke. Because Youke really is the best boy. The others hurt my ears and admittedly test my patience. (JaBaCa chorus: “We’re going for a ride! We’re doing something! Take us there, take us there! Are we there yet? Faster, faster!”)
The only time this symphony of absurdity doesn’t happen is if only one of them is in the car. Except for Camm. Because Camm is both sparkly and loud.
Lord forbid if a hapless human happens to be walking along on the street as we back out of the driveway. Usually I roll the windows up about then.
Everyone settles down by the time I make it to the first stop light on my route.
The one exception to this racket is early agility mornings. Camm is the only one that will bark in the beginning, but only for a minute or so. Then whomever is playing that day quickly curls into a ball and falls asleep for most of the ride. Not gonna lie, makes me happy that I’ve successfully converted each and every dog I’ve ever had into not-a-morning-dog.
The dogs are very good about picking up on whether the road to adventure will be a long one or a short one. They also have an amazing ability to map out destinations. I used to think this was done by scent. Makes sense since their noses are so sensitive that they can figure out where they are by smell. But then I started noticing that they still know where they are or where they’re going in the winter months, when the windows are closed up. I suspect it’s like a hostage situation. Even laying down in back, they keep track of every directional turn, every bump in the road. Brady now starts screaming his anticipation of doing agility when I make a certain turn onto a road that leads to the place where we do most of our agility shows. And if we’ve been to any destination three or more times for an agility trial, Brady has the destination mapped out in his head. How else to explain the enthusiastic barking and howls when we turn off the main roads to the arena?
But just as important as knowing where all the agility places are, is knowing where all the adventure places are. More important really.
There’s a handful of regular spots within a 45-minutes radius or less that I take my dogs to. They know each one.
I decided to take them to one such favorite spot, but discovered someone else was there already. I turned in anyway, figuring it’s a large place and we’d likely never even see whoever it was. But my spidey sense kicked in. I listen to my spidey sense, which in this case was giving off huge red flag warnings. No idea why. But this particular spot is also the place where the dogs and I were affronted in late April by three nasty dogs and where Brady got bitten. Despite the loud comments of joy from the back (“We’re here! We’re here! We’re here!”), I opted to turn around and go to another place.
Silence ensued. I could feel the massive disappointment radiating from the back over the massive bad joke I’d just played.
We ventured a little further up the road and went to another favorite spot. As soon as the jeep’s tires hit the first familiar bump in the road, JaYoBaCa’s clamoring started up again, this time with a vengeance. For some reason, this particular place even elicits noise from Youke. I’m pretty sure it’s because we often play ball at this place too. Youke’s contribution is a high-pitched whining. (Youke: “Ball! Ball! Ball! I can play with Ball!! Let me out so I can play with Ball!”)
So we did. Play with Ball. For a while. That takes a bit of the edge off so I can leash everyone up while we pass through the section where we are most likely to encounter others – other people, other dogs, and sometimes we see cyclists. I snapped the leashes off as soon as we got to the crappy area (for those others, not for us). Immediately Youke and Jasmine started investigating for water sources.
My dogs also have a remarkable memory for all the water places. The other day, Brady took off from a game of ball to race down the trail and to jump into a pond. I wasn’t worried about him taking off as I knew exactly what he was doing. In fact, Youke decided to do the very same thing 15 seconds later. The only problem is that it’s been so dry this summer, all the water spots have either dried up or are cesspools of mud. Both boys returned caked in swamp-smelling mud, but with big happy smiles on their faces. (Brady: “Even with all this mud, you are still not allowed to brush me.”)
Call me mean, but it amuses me to see the look of dismay on their faces as they jump into what they think is a nice cool water pool, only to find it’s now a dried-out dip filled with flattened marsh grass. Since this dry spell has lasted for months, most of the water spots also dried up months ago. Still, hope springs eternal for dogs.
And then there’s the moment when they jump into a remembered water spot and emerge looking like a nature documentary on water buffalo. Ah, joke is on me now.
(Youke: “We’re really hot. Don’t worry, mud comes off in car and on bed.”)
Despite the wallowing in mud part, we still enjoyed a lovely walk. (Youke: “Except not enough water places.”)
Temperatures rose to the mid-80s, but it’s been so hot this summer that even the dogs have acclimated and I’ve actually grown to like the warmer temperatures myself.
I’ve also confirmed my suspicions this summer and verified that no one is out and about midday. The dogs and I were out for 3.5 hours and saw not a single soul. That counts as a super excellent day. Maybe it was just too hot for the native Pacific Northwesterners.
It’s incredible relaxing and comforting to walk along briskly, knowing no one else is about and with a cohesive little group that gets along so well. I like to watch them investigate their individual interest in a scent or in a particular item on the trail or off, sometimes coinciding with the interests of one of the other dogs. How come Brady and Jasmine are curious about a hole to the side of the trail, but Youke is not and Camm just gives it a cursory glance? Why do Youke, Camm and Jasmine like when I pick berries for them, but Brady could care less? Why does Jasmine mark over so much scat, when Brady marks over only half as much and Youke never does? What fascinates Camm about certain sticks? Why do they play with each other sometimes and sometimes not? Why is one a good playmate one day, but isn’t interested on another day? The simple answer, of course, is that they’re each individuals.
The downside to doing midday jaunts like this is that we arrive home fairly early too. Back in the days before I had so much free time, we usually returned home from excursions very late, sometimes not until after 9 pm. Youke still has not caught onto the fact that it is not automatically dinner time when we come back home. (“Good we’re home. Now feed me.”)
But just because it isn’t time for dinner yet, doesn’t mean we can’t snack. The dogs all got to share my snacks – some apple and cinnamon sticks, some dried pineapple and pickles. Don’t judge. It was delicious. It continually cracks me up how much my dogs like pickles. (Brady: “More pickles, more pickles please!”).
The nice thing about a midday adventure is that afterward everyone is willing to flop around and chill. (Youke: “Of course, we have to eat dinner first. I can’t relax if I’m starving.”). Which is all so much nicer than sitting in traffic inching along at 15 miles an hour and swearing.