Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Wild Trip to the Dog Park

It was pretty obvious that most of the dogs at the dog park today had been cooped up for a while. Everywhere I looked there were dogs spinning and chasing and running full-throttle. It was definitely a good day for getting your knees knocked out from under you. The humans, clad in rain gear, hoods up due to a sudden shower, were clearly taking their lives into their own hands. I made my way over to stand in front of a bench, figuring I'd at least protect my back side from a careening pack.

The dogs didn't mind the rain a bit. All the better to cool you off when you're running at full-throttle, I guess. And they probably think that "wet dog smell" gives them an air of sophistication.

After a short bit the clouds parted and the sun broke through in all its glory. I'm not exaggerating when I say within 2 minutes a new bunch of cars arrived at the parking lot. The humans looked a lot like me unloading the dogs from the car...desperately trying to control their overly-eager, cabin-feverish canines. We nodded at each other, knowingly. There is a sunbreak, and after days of constant drizzle, we'll take what we can get.

Epilogue to the star-spangled fire hydrant controversy: it's back. With a fence around it. The dogs don't seem to mind. And I found the fence to be another nice place to protect one's backside and knees while watching the careening dogs.
Photo: Associated Press - obviously taken before the fence was installed. But I think the same group of dogs were there today...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Spinning in the Rain

Having just moved back to the rainy Portland area from somewhat sunnier climes, I was counting on having at least a partly sunny fall. Unfortunately, the winter drizzle seems to have set in a tad early this year. A few days ago we went from 70 degrees and perfect to 60 degrees and drizzle overnight, and the pattern is predicted to continue for the forseeable future (at least as far as the weather reports are willing to predict...). I broke down and dug out the bio-light for a little dose of brightness over breakfast.

The drizzle is taking its toll on the dogs as well. The dog walks have been quite short and we haven't made any more trips to the dog park. They're showing it. Being a little guy, Kirby gets his exercise via "Kirby Derby," running up and down the stairs over and over and over. Unfortunately, Bax is a tad too big to successfully run at full throttle in the house, so he restrains himself. But the veneer of calm is starting to wear thin. Just yesterday Baxter started doing his "Spin" in the yard...while on the leash. The Spin is something he did a LOT when he was a puppy, usually when he reached some peak level of frustration about hearing the word "no" too many times or not being able to go and sniff at every place he found of interest.

The spin goes like this:

He crouches down and looks up at me out of the corner of his eye. The whites are showing in a sort of crazed expression. Then he takes off, first in one direction, then the other, spinning in place in circles, tangling and untangling his leash and making it very difficult to hang on. This dog tornado is accompanied by a little growly sound and usually ends after about 30 seconds in a final flourish with legs spread wide, eyes defiant and tongue hanging out. Then he composes himself and continues on the walk as if nothing happened.

Bax is such a calm dog most of the time, I think this is just his little way of blowing off some steam and letting me know he's not getting enough of what he needs: unfettered romping time.

Come to think of it, there are times I really feel like doing the Spin. When the stresses of daily life reach the point where they're bordering on intolerable, then that one little thing happens to just send me over the top, I feel like running around in circles screaming. Of course, being a product of my civilized Midwestern upbringing where highly dramatic self-expression is kept in check, my response is, instead, to just sit in my chair and fume on the inside. Sometimes I let a little out by cursing at my computer or the dashboard of my car -- but only when I'm fairly certain no one can hear me.

I'm sure this rather repressed reaction to stress has killed many people over the years...if not immediately, then over time as the stress builds and builds and never finds a good release.

So I'm not mad at Baxter for the leather burn on my hand from yesterday's Spin cycle. I understand more than he probably realizes. And a little bit of me longs to do the exact same thing. For the sake of Baxter, perhaps it's time to break out the Gore-Tex, load the car with towels and make a trip to the dog park.

And for me...I might just have to close the shades, put on some rock and roll and start spinning.