Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dog Days at the Botanical Gardens

Today was LEAD's Dog Days at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. They invite different dog organizations to come down and spend one Sunday during the summer with them. They provide umbrellas, a table, chairs, and water. We were invited to participate last summer and then we asked Canine Affair Center to join us. Our agility instructors (who happen to be married), Rob and Ana put together an agility course and had dogs demo and then did a "try it" session. It was a huge success so we decided to do the same thing this summer.
This was Hardy's first Dog Days - he stayed up in Canada last summer when I came down with Laurel to do it. Besides being there in their capacities as service dogs, they also got to participate in the agility demo! While vested, Hardy is really very good at ignoring other people (that's much easier for him than it is for Laurel!) but people can be so funny! One gentleman came up to Hardy, who was laying down, and kept calling him to come visit (over and over and over). Hardy didn't move but looked at me. I explained that he was working so he was doing what he was supposed to do by not moving. Then I released Hardy by telling him to "go visit" so he got up and went to the man who told him to "go back and lay down - you're working so you shouldn't get up." I don't know if Hardy was confused but I certainly was! 
For the first part of the afternoon, we had 3 service dogs hanging out under the umbrella together. Everyone got along beautifully and generally spent time under the table laying on the cool pad or in the water. One of the dogs in Hardy's agility class, Boo, came for a visit and although he doesn't always like other dogs, he and Hardy laid back to back in peaceful companionship. 
Neither Laurel nor Hardy do any agility outdoors. Laurel has allergies and although my power chair could get around, I tend to get big bruises on all my joints if I bounce around too much. Since that doesn't really work for me, I haven't done any dog sports outside. Also, Laurel has allergies to grasses, weeds and trees so doing stuff outdoors aggravates those as well. A couple weeks ago, we went to Rob and Ana's house because they have all the agility equipment set up in their backyard and Laurel and Ana did a couple practice runs. I worked with Hardy on the channel weaves and the tire jump but we didn't do any courses or any of the contact equipment. 
Rob and Ana decided to invite some beginner dogs to demo an easier course so we decided that Rob would run Laurel on the "big dog" course and Ana would run Hardy on the "baby dog" course. They each did a couple practice runs and Hardy demonstrated that he is, in fact, a 15 month old adolescent boy dog. 
Laurel did very well with her demo run - she had a little problem with the weave poles the first time through but all in all, she did great! She was focused on Rob and was just having a blast! Hardy jumped 16 inches (because of his age, we are still practicing at 12 inches) and he was totally awesome! He was fast and focused and didn't look his age at all! I was so proud of both my Labs (and to be honest, my big brown boy really surprised me)!

After the demo, we went back to the table. Unfortunately, we were joined by a dog (not a service dog) that kept lunging while barking and growling at other dogs walking past our table. This is certainly not the impression we want people to have when they think of Lake Erie Assistance Dogs! Then, just when we were getting ready to leave, that same dog lunged at Hardy who was about 3-4 feet away from him and bit him on the nose. It didn't break the skin and Hardy is fine (although Laurel got very upset), but it felt like a bad end to a really lovely afternoon. I will make sure that he has plenty of opportunities to be in the company of friendly dogs and watch for any signs of stress and/or reactivity. Certainly, even though this was not a big traumatic situation, it's not what I want my young SDiT (or my SD, for that matter) to be involved in. However, when all things are said and done, I was very proud of both my Labs and thought it was a lovely summer afternoon!

No comments:

Post a Comment