Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dog Beach Aborted

I felt I owed it to Gracie to take her somewhere to play. Yesterday, Sarah stopped by and said, "Maybe we'll take Gracie to doggie beach tomorrow." Early this morning I sent Sare a text asking if she was taking (her dog) Ruca to doggie beach. She didn't respond. After a few hours of taking care of (afore mentioned) business, I decided to take Gracie to doggie beach without the other girls. My car already contains a puppy go pack (water, dish, dog food, treats, puppy-poop-bags, rabies papers, etc.) so I grabbed my beach bag (sunscreen, visor, towel, lip balm), added wallet, cell phone (in new water-proof case!) added a folding chair and cooler and headed to doggie beach.

When I arrived on black island, i could see right away that dog beach was busy. I winced, knowing this may be difficult. If Sarah and Ruca were here, Gracie would follow Ruca everywhere she went, and Ruca would listen to Sarah. Gracie is ....out of control. Pulling in to park, Gracie was so excited at the sight of all the other dogs, the smell of the beach and the recognition of 'doggie beach.' She darted from window to window in the few brief moments it took me to park and turn off the vehicle. I opened the hatch on my CR-V, and Gracie instantaneously bounded out. (I cursed). She ran. She ran from car to dog to car ...all within less than ten feet from the highway. She wanted nothing to do with responding to my call. Fortunately for me, one vehicle that had just pulled in was driven by a woman with two (or three?) young girls who were outside their van and immediately came to my aid, by calling, offering "cookies". After several minutes of "puppy gone wild", one of the young girls was able to grab Gracie's collar. I was right there with the leash, and ever so grateful to them.

With backpack, chair, cooler and "pup-gone-wild", I walked into the "off-leash" area. There were dogs everywhere. Gracie was NUTS. All the other dogs listen to their owners. Gracie has alot to learn, and so I kept her leashed. My intention was to walk to the farthest part of the beach (so she wouldn't be close to the parking lot, where she'd follow every and any dog to the car, and, ultimately, the road). Once established, my plan was to acclimate Gracie to me and where I was, and then 'ease her in' to be leash-less.

As I approached the beach and scoped out the location, I headed toward the farthest section destination. There were dogs of all sizes ages and supervision. I was determined to follow my plan of setting up my chair before unleasing Gracie (how else would I stand a chance of getting her to retun to me?). Encumbered by a packpack, a chair and cooler, I had my work cut out for me controlling Gracie when this very large 'pit-bull - ish' looking dog approached. I let the dogs "sniff." Other dog was loose, but I kept Gracie leashed. They hugged, sniffed, romped, tangled in the leash. As I tried to continue on to my destination, this other dog mounted Gracie and would not stop. I pushed him away with my foot, and he was undeterred. I pulled Gracie away to no avail. Finally, I pulled Gracie in the direction of the folks from which this other dog came. To no one in particular, I called, "Is this your dog?" A couple responded, and I asked, "can you please get him?" and they did.

I walked on to where I intended to set my chair. Other dogs romped about, came by, sniffed, and moved on. I stood there by the waters' edge, assessing, catching my breath. Trying to figure out if this really was a good idea. Just as I was deliberating, DOG came back. He mounted Gracie with his manlyhood clearly visible. (Gracie is just 8 months, and not yet fixed, has not yet had a heat). I either said criminy or something stronger. As I was trying to figure out how to deal with this, the female member of the couple-owner came by and grabbed DOG. In my Kermit Frog voice I made some apologies which she either couldn't hear or didn't want to hear.

This clearly was not working. Gracie was far too young to be in such a busy dog beach. I guess she needs a "puppy pen." I never set up my chair. I picked up my stuff and headed back to the parking lot. Walking back, I came across the woman and her girls that helped corral Gracie in the parking lot. They had 5 or so dogs - all the same kind - like Corgies or such. "Leaving already?" the woman asked. I explained. They were very kind.

Walking back to the car, a couple coming the other way asked, "is that a weimaraner?... She's beautiful!" at which point, she barfed her lunch. I had to explain that Garcie's so excited, she literally chokes herself on her collar. (this pup walks on her hind legs like a circus animal..being held upright by my hand as she tuggs at the end of her leash).

Returning to the car, I quickly clipped Gracie to the hook in the tailgate, being sure she couldn't jump out. I took her (Tony the Tiger) dish out of my pack, some ice from the coooler and water from the jug. She lapped up two bowls full. As she was lapping, I was amused to see the van that was driven by the woman with the girls that came to my aid: they had stickers that said things like, "WOOF" and other dog-related items. (I wanted to put a thank you note on the van).

Driving home, I was disappointed. I analyzed what went wrong, what I could have done differently. Maybe Gracie is just too young. After all, toddlers don't play with the big kids on the soccer fields. Perhaps if I had knelt down with Gracie when "DOG" approached I could have made the encounter friendlier. I have to figure out a way to give this pup her due exercise. She's a beautiful animal - Gracie is a perfect name (if I don't say so myself!) as she is very sleek and graceful. Her anatomy is outstanding. But she is young, and needs vigorous exercise to maintain that sleek, superb muscle development.

There is a dog park in east fort myers in Buckingham. I hear it's quite nice. I hear it's fenced. Maybe tomorrow we can take a road trip all in the interest of getting Gracie some run time.

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