Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Day(s) on the Beach

The Five Day Weekend 

We have had quite the week with Buster being exposed to a whole host of new experiences and environments.  And, we discovered traveling with a dog can be quite a chore.

Last Thursday we were invited to Ojai Valley Cowboy School to do a remote podcast for our show, The Whoa Podcast about Horses and Horsemanship.  We knew it would be a long day.  Our choices: leave Buster alone in the yard or locked in his crate.  There is just too much trouble he can get into if left alone to roam free for ten hours.  We opted to take him with us.

Buster is a wonderful traveler.  Once in the truck he curls up and goes to sleep.  The trip to Ojai is about two hours.  He slept the whole way.  The Cowboy School is a ranch and all ranches have dogs.  I let Buster out and he soon discovered he was not "Top" anything.  Ranae and I took this as a good thing.  The other dogs played and showed him a good time.  And, when he got too rambunctious, they put him in his place.  I did have to crate him for a time while I rode.  We couldn't have him chasing the horse around and that's just what he would have done.  I offered him the opportunity to be tied to the outside of the arena, but he chose to bark and left me no choice.

Once the riding events were over we let him out and he was a good dog.  I was worried about the food - there were hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill.  We kept a watchful eye on him because he would have definitely helped himself to some goodies.

He slept most of the way home and on Friday we headed off again for a weekend in San Diego. Wonderfully, the trip down was great. Buster slept for about three hours until we got to the town of Norco.  We found a place to eat with a patio, walked around a bit, and then finished the ninety minute trip to our hotel.  La Quinta Inns does not charge for pets.  I was a little concerned when they were only rated two stars on the website, but our room was clean, breakfast was good, and we were pleasantly surprised.  We had two crates with us, the travel crate and the sleeping crate.  We move the sleeping crate to the room and kept the travel crate to contain Buster when we went to a restaurant that didn't accommodate dogs.

We visited my brothers staying at an RV park.  Buster was well rested and eager to check things out.  People were excited to meet him and he fed off that excitement. We were recommended a few dog parks and told of a dog beach.  We could not wait to give it a try.  

Two dogs playing chase and roll.
Saturday morning we found Dusty Roads Dog Park.  I've never been to a dog park.  Buster had never been to a dog park.  It was time to let nature take its course and see what happened.  

All the years I've owned dogs I had never observed this type of behavior.  Plenty of times I had seen dogs interact on-lead or loose out in the open.  This was a self-contained dog play area.  The dogs who regularly come here, come specifically to play.  New dogs are greeted, it seemed to me, with a very stern eye that conveyed the notion, "You will have fun...or else".  

Buster was greeted with a couple of dogs in his face and was a little intimidated at first.  There were far too many good smells for him to comprehend.  He interacted with a few of the dogs and played a game or two of chase.  He discovered on his own that one does not just take any dog's ball without a good romp and a run.  He played with dogs bigger than he and some of the smaller ones too (although there was a separate penned area for the dogs under 20 lbs.)  He kept me in eyesight and if I wandered too far off, he would come over and check in with me.

Dog Beach San Diego
Once I knew he was good in the fenced area we set out to see what delights the dog beach held for us. We found we had parked about half a mile away.  Ranae and I enjoy walking and this was the fun part for us. 

This was an amazing place!  There were dogs everywhere! Some dogs wanted in the water, some did not.  Buster was not too sure what to think at first.  Again, the smells were overwhelming, but there were dogs, there were balls and Frisbees being thrown, and there were waves to dodge.

Buster did an excellent job of balancing having fun and keeping track of where we were.  It was hard to even take pictures of him because every time I squatted to get a "dog level" shot he would come running to me.

Finally, he went tearing through the waves with a new-found friend.  He got a real kick out of splashing water around.  He's too new to the game to come back to us before shaking the water off, but I'm sure if given time and opportunity, he would pick this up in a heartbeat.

It was wonderful seeing him run.  The boy does know how to have a good time.  We went to another dog park the following day.  I have to hand it to San Diego.  They know how to treat their dogs.  In all the time we spent around the loose dogs - around three hours I would guess - there was not one fight incident.  There were pit bulls and Rottweilers and some other intimidating breeds, but nothing ever escalated passed a bit of barking.

Surf's Up!
On Sunday while grocery shopping we ran across a pet store.  Knowing we could take Buster inside we decided to do a bit of window shopping.  As luck would have it, there was a scale inside.  Buster is up to 42 lbs.  Oh, and I should mention that he was off his feed on the trip.  He usually scarfs down about 5 cups of food a day.  Friday he had three, Saturday I don't think he ate 2 1/2 cups.  And, with his appetite off schedule, his poops were too.  He woke me up at five in the morning for a walkabout.  We had a talk.  I tried to convey that this was a vacation and the goal was to sleep in.  After a day at the dog beach I think he finally got the hang of it.  I'm not sure what was going on.  His appetite is back to normal now that he's home.

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