Saturday, April 27, 2013

Canoe Tripping with Dogs

Igloo, a friend's West Highland Terrier has often accompanied
us on canoe trips. Is it now time for me to
 bring a dog as well?

I know there are many of you out there that love dogs, and I bet there are just as many that take them on canoe trips. Well, you've probably already surmised by now that I don't have a dog, since I've never mentioned one in any of my posts. Well, that was before - pre-marriage. Since that fateful day, I've apparently (Unbeknownst, unknowingly, unwittingly, you following?) become the adoptive father of 2 small poodles - sigh. Okay, I admit, it's not that I didn't know Anita had dogs, but I did know that after we got married, the dogs were going to move in. I by no means hate dogs, or animals for that sake. Growing up, our family has had many pets, including dogs. It's just that my lifestyle has made it difficult to have one lately, and admittedly, I've gotten use to not having one for many years.

I'm firmly of the belief that dogs are not 'additions' or even just pets. I mean that in a way that dogs are like family, therefore they are a big commitment. They require a lot of attention and time, just as a child would. (Okay, maybe not as much, but pretty close.) I'm pretty sure many of you consider your dog(s) family, whereas others, not so much. I'm not here to get into a debate about where dogs stand in importance or their place in family hierarchy, (Note: My spot just dropped 2 places after the dogs moved in!) but I knew that I wouldn't be able to give enough of myself to own one. That's just me. I'm pretty sure you'll agree, that realization is much better than owning a dog, and neglecting the poor thing.

Here's Toby, our resident old man
who is still cute as a button!

As it stood, I really had no choice in the matter. It really was a case of "the dogs come with me". Not that I had any big objections, but I did air a few concerns, which have been sorted out. So it is official, I am now a bona fide dog owner. (Except when they do something bad, and then they are Anita's - wink, wink.) It certainly has been an adjustment, but I've survived pretty much intact. Maybe a bit worse for wear at times, - I'll have more to say about this later - but otherwise pretty good. I've quickly discovered we don't need a doorbell, an alarm clock or a kitchen broom. There are definite benefits, but there's the flip side. Headaches with all the extra unnecessary barking, can't sleep in, and do you know, I sometimes actually have to wipe their butts! (My gag reflex is tenuously holding.) 

As time goes on, I'm developing a fondness for them, as I think they are for me. Albeit, I'm sure it will take some time, as I've only lived with them for just over 6 months now. But still, it's hard not to notice the dog's antics. When Anita comes home, the dogs literally go ballistic. Howling, barking, whining and going just plain haywire. When I come home, they quickly come running while barking, until they realize who it is. After which, once they confirm Anita is not around, trot back off the way they came, jumping onto the comfy couch, and literally laying down in a funk! Despite my, "Hello? I'm here!", they just look at me with stone faces - sigh.

I may have come home, but these two rascals couldn't care less. They 
actually are sulking because Anita hasn't arrived
yet, do you believe that?!

In any case, there has been progress. There has even been progress in terms of my reluctance to take them on canoe trips, as was my initial stance. However, my position has slowly changed (I must be going soft with the dogs.), and I have actually suggested to Anita about taking them. She was surprised at my suggestion, probably as much as I was at making them, but I figured why not? Although, I've been told the older one, Toby, the toy poodle wouldn't be allowed to go due to his age, his cataracts, and his inability to swim. Poor guy, but Anita thinks a trip may kill him. I didn't really object, considering I also found out that he does not stop whining in the car due to motion. Could you imagine all day in a canoe? So unfortunately, he will be spending quality time with Anita's parents when we head out. 

Teaching the boys the basics of canoeing. Can't
you tell how thrilled they are?

So now, I've been told that I need to focus on getting Teddy ready for an eventual canoe trip. That means getting his stamina up, teaching him commands, and establishing myself as the alpha dog. (Me, alpha dog?! Okay, so where do I pee to mark my territory.). Anita will admit he is a momma's boy, skittish, and "a bit spoiled", (Bull - stifled cough.) so it will take some time to get him toughened up for the wilderness. I've already taught him a few commands, such as stay, paw, sit and down, but they only really seem to work when I have treats in my hand. I've also played around with him, to try to get him more active, such as getting him to leap, fetch a ball, and just plain running around. Although, I never expected that this kind of interaction carried risks.

One day, I found if I jump and run around, he follows, barks and jumps too. Although unexpectedly, he started to nip as well. It seemed harmless as he would briefly grab your clothing and let go, but one day after I sat down, I felt a soreness on my shin. I pulled my pants up to reveal a colourful Loonie-sized bruise on my shin. Anita was shocked that I got bit, but I was doubtful as I never felt anything at that time. I was positive the injury was from me knocking my shin into the bed frame the night before, however, Anita was not convinced. On closer inspection, it became evident of the tell-tale markings. Blood soon came to the head of three distinct puncture wounds. The bugger actually bit me!

A war wound from playing with the dog.
Who would have guessed?

Well, the injury wasn't a big deal, but the actions of the dog concerned me. I wouldn't want any of my niece/nephew's, or anyone else for that matter to be accidentally bit while playing around with him. I wanted to make sure Teddy knew it wasn't right to bite, so of course, smart-ass me decided I needed to "work with him". (Anita gave me a funny look and shook her head.) So the next day, we played again, as I hopped and jumped around him. As he got excited, I voiced my displeasure when he tried to nip again. I had thick fleece pants on, so I figured it would help keep his teeth off of me. Needless to say, it didn't work. In literally a split second, as focused as I was on his mouth, he lunged between my legs and bit down. This time, there was no mistaking what happened. It was Easter weekend, so let's just aptly say he got my 'egg'! On top of that, he still managed to break my skin! Don't worry, I'll save you the picture, you'll just have to take my word for it.

Here's Teddy, our "red" miniature poodle who we eventually 
plan to take on a canoe trip. He may be more of a
threat to me than wildlife!

Despite this incident, I still consider Teddy a good dog, and I am beginning to like him a lot, despite his propensity for scarring me. I can't comprehend why he does this, but hopefully in time (and no further wounds), we'll work something out. I really do want to take him on a canoe trip, so it just means I have to put in time with him, you know, to bond and 'figure' him out. For the time being, I decided to let my wounds heal and take a break. Like seriously, who do I think I am? A dog whisperer, like that guy Cesar Milan? I paddle canoes, not train dogs. Although next time, I should really consider wearing a jock; I wonder if Cesar does? Anyhow, the injuries are healing nicely, but I had to endure more than enough giggles and sarcastic remarks at the Easter dinner table. Boy, does word travel fast about one's misery! Oh well, might as well laugh about it, considering one of my 'eggs' is no longer blemish free!

t(slightly limping)PP

And yes, it was THOSE teeth!

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