Puppy Playground

A little pre-bed reading for Dec and Bear.

A little pre-bed reading for Dec and Bear.

Schools let out at one last Thursday. It was in anticipation of the coming storm. And they got it right. We’d been having cold temperatures so when it started snowing it accumulated right away. And by dinner time school had been canceled for Friday.

The cold temperatures and accumulating snow arrived and the normal rules for dogs departed. Walking on a leash became a safety hazard with stable footing gone, so the leash stayed in my pocket on the walks. And with school shuttered, we went to the playground to throw the ball, with no risk of getting a talking to from the custodian who always seems to appear as we would step on the corner of the field.

Bear and Jelly curling up on Dec's bed. Dec took this picture.

Bear and Jelly curling up on Dec’s bed. Dec took this picture.

Knowing Bear needs to run, and getting two comments that he is fat in the past two weeks, I’ve been taking him to the school in the wee hours of the morning. We walk/jog to the field and then I throw the ball for Bear to really stretch his legs a bit. But every time we get to the field I expect the custodian to arrive on site, pushing some cart, asking me if I saw the three signs that said “Dogs must be on leash,” asking me if I could read. Though we arrive to the field before six, I scan the parking lot, take an inventory of which lights are on in the building, and check the back gates before letting Bear off leash to run. If nothing else, his constant berating keeps me paranoid and gives me pause before taking Bear’s leash off.

Bear thieving hats from Sam, Dec, and Emma while Taylor pulls them.

Bear thieving hats from Sam, Dec, and Emma while Taylor pulls them.

So with the snow comes a confidence that the custodian is absent. Absent also are any cars on the street, so we walk down the middle of the street, arriving at the field to find one or two other dogs liberated to run freely, without fear of the custodian, at the schoolyard. And there is something new about having everything covered in snow. Other than the crunch when you walk, the air is more still. Whether it is the stillness, or the crunch, or the powder, the dogs have more jump

.

Walk softly and carry a big stick.

Walk softly and carry a big stick.

We bundled up and ventured for the fifth hole par three at the golf course. It is a steep hill prime for sledding. There were plenty of other people and plenty of other dogs. After running with the puppies, Bear took up the cause of chasing sleds as they careened down the hill. We got back home around noon, a time that Bear would have already clocked over three hours of napping, so he quickly jumped on his couch and slept curled up in a ball.

All smiles at the sledding hill.

All smiles at the sledding hill.

The snow continued as did the no-leash walking, chasing sleds, and playing with dogs. And a lot of sleeping.

Alerts

Bear pawed me. First, I went to Declan. Bear pawed me again. Dec was in range. Then downstairs to find Maggie in her room. She was in range. Then I checked myself. I was technically in range at 86, but I think he was alerting for me. I’d just gotten back from the gym and hadn’t eaten anything. So he alerted me, I checked Declan and Maggie’s blood, and then I checked mine. Not sure if the connection is made between the alert and the treat, but I gave him some hot dog-cheese-kibble potpourri.

It is a bit more difficult with the free-form snow-days to continue with scent-training, but we’ve been able to get in a few sessions. In fact, the “put the sample next to Bear’s nose while he sleeps” has been easier to practice with his deep sleeping after all the playing in the snow.