Monday, 21 May 2012

When the lion was a puppy

Another story from a few months ago:
Recall training was going well. I have to admit I was a little smug about it, proud of well we were doing. The day my smugness came down a notch or 2 was a glorious one.  The sun was high in the blue cloudless sky, the air warm and the world was friendly (has anyone else noticed that the English are much happier when the sun shines?).  On days like these the tow path is full of anglers hoping to catch something for the BBQ later. Boats are moored along the green riverbank, families are sat eating lunch on them with their children squealing in delight at the swans swimming on the river.

On that fateful day my fabulous friend was walking the puppy for me. She owns a golden retriever that is so well behaved and gentle that he was the obvious choice as role model for my puppy.

They had been walking along the tow path, enjoying the warm sunshine. A few men were along the river catching fish, their bait beside them, dreaming of their lovely BBQ later. The smell of the bait must have been too much for the puppy. She sped at top speed over to the startled man and before you could say ‘other people’s food tastes better’ she had eaten it all! Just like that! My friend raced after her, calling her back but the realisation that there was food about propelled the puppy forward. All the recent fabulous work we had done on recall forgotten as she hunted down another tasty meal.

Detecting the smell of fresh cheese sticks, the puppy continued on with her quest to eat! She launched herself onto a boat moored beside the riverbank. On it sat a granddad and his grandchild. Seeing the brown blur of a puppy jump onto his boat, he lifted his grandchild into his arms.... clearly he could not tell if it was a lion or a dog.... that meant that the cheese sticks he had bought were unattended! My exhausted friend was running and calling and the puppy was using her selective hearing! She gobbled the cheese sticks, the hungry little child began to cry and my embarrassed friend and shamed retriever dragged puppy off the boat. Then they proceeded to walk the ‘Walk of Shame’ back to my house, only the puppy had no shame only a rather full belly.  Back to the recall training I think!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

A roller coaster called Akira

This weekend I went away to Alton Towers to celebrate an exciting event with some amazing friends. This theme park is like Lego Land on steroids and for 8 hours on Saturday I was strapped in and flung around like a rag doll. I have a croaky voice today from all the screaming! But all of that involuntary motion reminded me that I have my very own ‘roller coaster maker’ here at home.

You see ‘puppy’ weighs 35 kg now and is a bundle of muscle. I bet she could drag along a truck like they do in the World’s Strongest Man competitions! For reasons I will chat about another time, Akira needs to be walked on a lead at the moment. Once we are on open land the lead of choice is a retractable lead. For those who are new to the dog world as I am, this is long lead that extends and retracts into a small hand held device and allows your dog to move a few meters away from you to explore whilst allowing you to have control over them.

The story unfolds on a clear, blue sky sunshine day in London. A Saturday, which means that every man and his aunt are out on the common having a picnic and playing football. It is such a luxury to see the sun that I cannot wait to get out the door with Akira. She is so grateful to be out that she walks beautifully next to me all the way to the common. Here we amble around happily, watching the kids play and the grown ups fall asleep in the sun. Akira LOVES chasing a ball but she needs to stay on the lead and I am kicking the ball just in front of her so she can pick it up and bring it back to me. This seems to working well and she is enjoying a bit of a play. Again I drop the ball and... it bounces... it all happens in slow motion. I see the ball fly far from me, she also spots it and takes off. 35 kgs of muscle chase after the small blue circle. My brain begins to scream at me---- NOOOOO!--- but my body freezes. I hear the long line extend- ‘ZZZWEEEE’. At last my legs defrost and I begin to run but it is too late! ZZZWEEE and then click as Akira reaches the end of the lead. I try to run as fast as I can but my legs just cant move fast enough and I cling to the lead for dear life. Then, I launch into the air and fly for a few meters, landing on my stomach. My sunglasses fly from my face, the bag empties all over the grass as I  get dragged another meter and stop. I look up from the ground just in time to see Akria trot back over to me and drop the ball at my head.  Shucks, I hope nobody saw that!

Who needs to pay to go on a roller coaster when you have a huge dog?