Monday, July 16, 2012

Teaching a Middle-Aged Dog New Tricks

Sadly, we are down to two dogs. As you readers know, our 12-year-old Lab, Tess, had to be put to sleep. She now rests in peace without pain, having struggled with hip dysplasia the past couple of years. Whenever we took the other two dogs to the beach, Tess would have to stay home because of her condition and that always made me sad for her because I knew how badly she wanted to come. Back in her good days, she loved to swim while chasing after a tennis ball. We've never had a dog that wasn't crazy about the water...until now.

Today's post is about teaching Ike to swim, 
or at least attempt to ease his fears of the water. 

Last week, Steve and I took Ike and Bear to a Lake Superior beach. Bear just had a birthday so this was a great way to celebrate...well, for her anyway. Seven years ago she was born in our cabin in the UP which is now our home. We think Ike is about 6 months older than her, but we don't know for sure. Six and a half years ago he just showed up one day and decided he liked us and wanted to stay. We tried to find his owners, but no luck. It was probably a good thing as we are convinced he was abused. It took him two years to wag his tail! I don't think he knew what lovin' was. In the above picture Steve is trying to coax Ike into the water. Bear is all for it, but you can see Ike is skeptical about the so-called "fun" day we told him we have planned.

On the left, Ike slowly steps into the water. But Bear is ready for a shake and a roll.

Every time she would get out of the water, 
she would head for the weeds and roll on her back!

Baby steps, Ike

Good Boy!

The Buddy System
(Ike is on the left, Bear is on the right, 
and they're not really swimming as they can touch the ground.)

After a while, we took a break. But it was hot, so Ike sat in the water next to Steve's chair.

We decided to head for another beautiful beach...

...with lots of sand bars and seagulls to chase.

Off they went...

But this beach had waves and moving water. 
Sometimes Ike would hesitate and whimper.
(He's the dog closest to you.)

The group even waded across this little inlet creek. 
Steve first made sure it was walkable for Ike.

Ike's whimpering increased so Steve decided to get him to shore. 
We didn't want to push it.

But Bear proceeded with a couple more shakes, rattles, and rolls...

and then proceeded to head out on her own... search of seagulls.

My walking stick and I went through the Straits of Mackinac to Mackinac Island this past Friday. More pictures to come of this enchanting jewel in the sea embraced by the clear blue waters of Lake Huron, blanketed with every shade of the palette in the overflowing gardens, planters, and baskets of flowers. The smell of horse droppings mixed in with the wafting cocoa aroma coming from the fudge shops completes the circle of uniqueness this island emulates. Every piece fits perfectly on this entrancing island. I never get tired of traveling there and every visit is just as special as the last.

Busy travel in the Straits

A footnote to this post about my dogs...
Yesterday (Wednesday), the dogs and I went for our usual walk.
Halfway down the road, both dogs took off like a bullet into the weeds. 
"Oh, no," I fretted, "Not again."
Yes. Again.
Only this time it was a porcupine.
Bear got poked with at least 50 quills.
Steve and I had our work cut out for us, but we're getting better at it.
(Boy, I hope the dogs don't hear that.)

Bear is doing just fine.
By looking at her, you wouldn't have a clue about the ordeal we all went through yesterday.
I don't have a picture, so you'll have to take my word for it.
This was not a pretty picture to share.

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