An Honest Answer

BradyatLakeSamm Today was a glorious late summer day. Technically it was a glorious early fall day, but it felt a lot like summer to me.

Today was also Brady’s special day.

BradyatLakeSamm2 (That’s Brady motoring out to retrieve his ball at the lake.)

Brady had a massage appointment this morning with Mr. Bob. Despite his suspicion about the whole massage thing and touching of so many areas that he typically prefers to keep private during his first appointment earlier this year, Brady has now become quite fond of Mr. Bob and all of his touching. I especially love when his eyes glaze over and he becomes all floppy and loose. Mr. Bob is very good. I watched as Brady started off very tense this morning, exhibiting some tenderness in his right forearm and wrist. He tried to flip around a few times, but eventually gave in to the good feelings. Apparently it was also a very good feeling to have his tight Achilles tendons on both sides worked.

I don’t do any formal conditioning with my dogs and have never jumped on the agility bandwagon of regular chiro visits and whatnot. My dogs’ conditioning work-outs consist of all the running, trotting, jumping, swimming, crawling and climbing they do in our everyday life and nearly daily adventures.

However, after Brady strained a wrist earlier this year and upon the suggestion of my relationship therapist i.e. agility instructor, I now take Brady and Youke to Mr. Bob roughly every other month to get loosened up. Apparently being a musclebound super-dog is not necessarily ideal. Not ideal maybe, but I still love running my hands over those tight, lean strong muscles. Loose, floppy-muscled dogs need not apply here. Or they get with the program fast.

After Brady’s massage was done, I decided to add to the good vibrations and take him on his own private one-on-one adventure with me.

I adore my dogs and I love the craziness when they’re all together. I’m fascinated by the interactions and their antics just plain make me laugh. That said, I also enjoy having some special one-on-one interactions with them and suspect they feel like it’s a special treat too. So, although I’m one of the laziest humans on this planet, I try to allow time for those special one-on-one interactions with each on a regular basis.

Therefore, I took Brady to the beach. Specifically to a nearby big lake that I’m very lucky to live near. The lake also has a nearby state park that includes some nice trails to walk on and big fields to explore.

Brady was beside himself with excitement. I love taking the dogs to new places or places they haven’t been in a while. Today, we came in on a trail that I don’t think Brady has ever been on before. So many things to sniff! So many things to pee on!

As we headed toward the lake itself for a swim, we encountered a man and his dog. His extremely large dog.

I saw the man and dog well before Brady did. He was too busy sniffing stuff and had his head in the bushes. I leashed him up as his head was buried in a pile of dried up blackberries and as he was standing three-legged over a hill of grass. The first sight Brady had was of the man and the dog’s rear end.

We were walking at a rapid pace – because the swimming portion of the day was about to ensue – and were quickly gaining on the man and what I thought at first was a really large, probably elderly, golden retriever, given its own slow pace. Then the dog realized we were behind it and glanced back. it was a leonberger. They are massive dogs.

leonberger(Random leonberger photo from the internet.)

Also, not the type of dog that Brady is especially fond of.

When the trail dumped us out at a clearing just before the path to the lake, the man glanced back at me and asked if my dog was a boy or girl.

“A boy,” I replied.

“Is he friendly?” he asked.

“Not particularly,” I drawled out in a sing-song voice.

The man was quiet for a second. Then he turned to the left with his dog, away from us.

“I like your honesty,” he replied.

Brady and I walked on and eventually reached the lake. Brady pretty much had a perfect day of hiking his leg on many, many things, smelling all the smells, pouncing on mole hills and swimming so much that when I saw how slow he was finally retrieving his ball I knew it was time to go.

And I kept thinking about that man and his reply. The brief interchange just makes me laugh. Something about it tickles me. I did give an honest answer to his question. Maybe it was the way I phrased the response that gave him pause. The response was not all that different from the way I usually respond when asked the similar question. I admit I usually respond in a somewhat lackadaisical manner these days as I learned two things some time ago if I responded in a more strident tone. The first, and most important, is that if I don’t keep my entire tone and posture relaxed, my dogs pick up on the tension. The second is that people also – perhaps somewhat ironically – respond far better to the more relaxed approach.

I like being honest about things, but sometimes it’s all in how you say it.

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