Oct 192009

There are many places in each city or town to take your dog. Some require the dog to be on the lead, and some allow off-lead.  Either one is a wonderful opportunity for your dog – and for you – to get fresh air, to walk, and to enjoy nature. Your dog will be happy and healthy, and you will too!


It was another one of those surprise days.  Jane gets me ready to go outside. I’m excited. It doesn’t matter where we’re going. It matters that we ARE going.

We ride and ride and then get out of the car.  I’m on the lead and I seem to know what direction to go in. It’s the direction where I smell dogs. This is a very large place. There are ducks in the water but I don’t care. I care about the smells in ground, and the dogs that pass by me, each one on a lead with his or her mom or dad.

looking out at the reservoir

Most parents are really nice and give us a chance to acknowledge each other and decide if we want to be friends or not.   This dog wanted to be friends with me.IMG_0006

Sometimes even when we decide we want to be friends, our parents say “okay, that’s enough” and we move on.

Some dogs aren’t feeling very well and my mom doesn’t let me play with them.

We walk for a long long time and we are going around and around this large body of water.  I’m getting thirsty but only my mom notices that my tongue is hanging out and that I am hot and thirsty. I don’t notice.  I want to keep on going.  Mom mom notices, however, and after a long long time she decides it’s time to get back in the car. We go to the car where she has a treat waiting for me.  Good boy. Good mom!

This is another wonderful place in the world, another place that I have discovered!  That my mom has helped me to discover!


Oct 042009

Dogs need exercise, they need to be socialized and dogs need to feel freedom. But do it – responsibly.


Discovery comes naturally to me.  It was like the days when I would try to dig my way under the fence and get out of the backyard!  Except that today, I was on a lead.   Notice that I’m not complaining. I’m getting everything out of life that I can.

Here we were, my mom and I, without a care in the world. When I stopped to sniff, my mom stopped. When I started moving again, my mom moved.  When I stopped again, she stopped.

I come from a long line of retrievers.  Bred to retrieve. To cross streams and valleys, to roam and sniff. Born to be a friend of men and women. To be gentle: We would carry a bird in our strong jaws and not damage it (which my Dad always reminds me of when he gives me a potato chip and watches me carry it in my mouth to my bed, where I eat it.)  And my ancestors were champion hunting retrievers and today I was my father’s son and my grandfather’s grandson, and my great-grandfather’s great-grandson.  That is my nature.  And my mom was happy to let me just be who I am.

After crossing the stream and interacting with Cody, we moved along, down a wide path with tall trees and full bushes off to either side. I heard everything and smelled everything.  Eventually we got to a place where we turned left and went down another path.  Same thing. At the end of that path was a large body of water. There was one dog in the water and that dog kept trying to catch a tennis ball but as usual I was interested in the dog, so my mom kept me from playing with that dog by tugging gently on my lead whenever I threatened to climb onto the swimming dog. Soon that dog left and I had the whole body of water to myself!

dogs can swim at Cat Rock Park

Soon, more and more dogs were coming. Groups of 2 dogs, then 5 dogs, then 10 dogs. Dogs everywhere! I wanted to play with them and many of them wanted to play with me. There was one dog who did not like me. He didn’t like me because I’m a whole male and he isn’t. But the man with him kept him on a short lead and every time I went to play with the dog and the dog growled at me, the man told the dog “no”. Then when the dog was nice to me, he made the dog feel good and pet his head and said “good dog”. So all in all it worked out and the dog learned the rewards of being nice to me. There was a female there I was also interested in, and she seemed to be interested in me too so that was really great, too.

Then those dogs left. And again I had this wonderland to myself (and my mom).


I can’t say which I liked more – with the other dogs there or without.

Soon my mom took me for one last swim.One last opportunity to exercise my injured leg and get it moving.  As usual, she came in the water with me.  Then we headed out.

There is so much beauty and joy in the natural world and in the world of man. I’m happy to discover another part of it!


Sep 302009

Every day I wake up hopefully to the welcome sound of my dad saying “Come on, Joey, let’s get up!” I know that we’re going to get our run! Once I hear those words, it doesn’t take long to get me out of my daze and to get my tail wagging.

Running with my dad in the early morning hours has been my life! I used to run with him for over an hour.  Since I was hit by the car, even after I’ve been running every day or every other day, I am pretty tired after 20 minutes. And my Dad knows this. After we go around the pond and are heading back up the big hill, I can hear him saying “Joey, you can do it. Come on. You can do it!”  Before I was hit by the car, he never had to say that to me.  I would go and go and go. So once we get to the top of the hill, we turn off of the carriage path and Dad runs me back home.  But still, I love running and I love my dad and I love running with my dad – any amount of time. Nothing could be better!

After our run, I wait and see what gems my mom is going to offer me on this day. Will I be able to go outside for walks? Will I spend time in the glow of the sunlight in the back yard while my mom does things outside that I don’t understand? Will I ride in the back seat of the car as she goes from place to place?

Sometimes the day unfolds to a place way beyond my imagination – to some land so close to my heart that I can just sing a song of nature.  Today was such a day.



playland for dogs

playland for dogs

As my mom and I walked down the path in this blessed woodland, I could almost hear the call of my father and his father and his father, champion hunters all.


A babbling stream called to me. My mom didn’t remind me that I’m supposed to be afraid of water. Instead, she said “Joey, gogogo” and sort of nudged me toward the water’s edge.  I walked right down and into the water, pulling her behind me.  She followed. I kept going and she stopped.


She watched me fearlessly go into the water.  She was a little nervous: She was wondering how my broken leg and broken foot were going to fare in this new untested and rocky ground, where the bottom wasn’t always visible.   She wanted to encourage me to feel free and comfortable and happy in the water – but didn’t want to encourage me to do something if it was going to be harmful. I jumped from rock to rock, making sure I was stable on one before I scouted out where to go next. My mom stopped and just watched me.  I was absorbed in my own world.  My world.


I went from rock to rock, across the knee-deep stream toward the other side and then across the rushing waters to the other side – and then felt the tug of my lead telling me I couldn’t go any further. My mom called. Then I went back across the water and from rock to rock again to where my mom stood and waited. Then suddenly we were crossing the rushing waters of the stream again, me first, and my mom following me every step of the way.

It’s hard to say what captivated me about the water. Were there smells in there that I could smell but she could not? Was it the sounds of the rushing water itself, hurrying to get somewhere?

I was still in the water but about to climb up the other bank and my mom was in the middle, struggling to get to my side, when a wonderful dog and his very nice master came walking along the path, and crossing the little bridge!

I discover Cody

I discover Cody

I couldn’t figure out how to get to Cody fast enough.  Cody was on his lead and I was on mine and this was it, but still, I’m not complaining.

Once my mom gets out of the stream, Cody and I get nose to nose – and then it’s time to move on.  I’m okay with that. There are jewels in every step of this park and my mom is happy to just let me wander, explore, stop, smell, and delight.  Maybe the memories of my father, and my grandfather, and my great-grandfather, champion hunters all, are visiting her, too.

More to come!


Aug 022009

Many dogs go to physical therapy after they are injured.  Water therapy, called hydro-therapy, is becoming popular.  This is good because it builds up the dog’s muscles without putting any pressure on injured areas. It also helps prevent arthritis, which can set in after a serious trauma. And most dogs love swimming. Most. Not all dogs like the water. Some like to look at it but not go in it. Some like to play along the edge. But there are ways to make your dog comfortable with water.

IMG_0011Today started out like any other Sunday: Dad woke up at sunrise, I woke up with Dad. And then I went back to sleep.

He woke me up later and I went out with him on a short walk.  Of course in the old days, it would have been a long run. But these are not the old days: These are the new days. These are “nowadays”.

It was a nice walk and then I came upstairs and went back to sleep in my bed next to my mom’s bed, until she woke up.

Then we were all one awake family.

My parents disappeared for a while in the middle of the day. I was pretty sullen to be alone and to not be included in whatever they were doing. But that all changed.

I saw my mom go and get a few of my poop bags and put them in her pack.  Then she came downstairs with a bunch of towels, one of which is the towel she always uses to dry me off.  I was getting ideas and the sudden and quick motion of my tail reflected that.

Then Dad came upstairs and he was jiggling his keys. I got more ideas.

Then Mom went and got the lead. My ears were on high alert.  Then Mom attached the lead to my collar, opened the front door, said “Joey, come” and I knew this was good!  Off we went to Dad’s car and me to my usual place in the back seat.

In a little while we were at my beloved lake. I love the lake and I love the dogs and excitement that surround the lake.  We took a nice walk and ended up at a cove at one end, where there is a gentle sandy beach.  My mom took the lead, and headed straight for the water and I headed straight for the water as well.  It was glorious.

My mom said something to somebody about “physical therapy” and my being hit by a car.  I wasn’t interested in her talk, however. I had a conflict of interest: I was interested in the water and in another dog that was swimming. It was difficult to make a choice but Mom solved that conflict: She pulled on the lead and said, “Joey, come.  Let’s swim!” and I followed, and we started walking in the water along the shoreline.

physical therapy for me

physical therapy for me

We walked as far as we could go in one direction and there I saw Dad on land!  Then we walked back to the original place, and there I saw Dad again!  We kept walking back and forth along the soft sands of the shoreline and Dad followed us so he could be near us.

I want to go in deeper

I want to go in deeper

Soon I wanted to go in deeper. My parents said “Do you think he’s ready to go in deeper?” but I seemed to be telling them that I was ready for this so Mom let the lead out to its longest and let me swim out.  Eventually I turned around to come back in.

We played this game for a while. Mom and I would head out into deep water and once there, I would decide to turn around and swim toward shore, where Dad was. I would go up on shore toward Dad, turn around, see my mom out there in the water, and decide to go back in the water toward her, as she said, “Joey come! and wiggled her fingers to urge me forward.

Once in a while I was distracted by the other dogs in the water but since I was on lead, there was no chance of going over there and though I tried, I understood my limitations.

conflict of interest

conflict of interest

After a while, both my parents said “I think that’s enough for the first day” and I was perfectly happy to stay on land and dry off.

Tonight I had a huge appetite and I am both eager to go out again and very tired.

Physical therapy is really a lot of fun, if you’re a dog!


Jul 262009

After ankle surgery, how can we know when it’s safe to take your dog running again?

My parents have been watching me like hawks to see when it’s okay for my dad and me to go running again.

My mom has started a series of long neighborhood walks with me, walking at a quick pace.  She wants to strengthen my injured leg. She also wants to build endurance in me.

She looks to see if I am limping or using three legs and holding my injured leg up when I go quickly.  She looks to see if I am walking on the grass or on the asphalt or sidewalk. She is looking to see if the pads of my paws are tender or are getting calloused and tough.

My parents are looking at the muscles on my left side, the injured side, and comparing them to the muscles on my right side.

When Dad and I are walking and he sees me hopping, he says “Use four legs” and I slow down.  Mom has a different technique:  “Walk slowly,” she says.

Today we were outside in the back yard and my dad has started throwing the ball for me to catch. He wanted me to see what speed I run at naturally and he noticed if I was hopping or using all four legs.

maybe i'm a little too wild for this stage of my recuperation

maybe i'm a little too wild for this stage of my recuperation but catching my ball is so much fun!

He noticed that I ran to catch the ball and that I used all four legs.

He noticed that after about ten minutes, I got tired and needed to stop and rest, so we stopped playing that game.

Yesterday my mom and I had a good long walk for 50 minutes. She was happy to see that I kept up the pace. She was happy to see that, though in the beginning I was hopping a little and she had to slow me down, after a while I used all four legs even when we were going at a fast walk.

My mom noticed that I walk comfortably on the street or sidewalk.

My parents are going to keep their eyes on me and watch me closely and patiently. They are also going to keep taking me on long walks with a quick pace. And they are going to throw me the ball in our back yard and watch me run after it and see how I do sprinting.

I’m happy to get all this training; it’s lots of fun but it’s no substitute for the real thing.  My urge to run again is still alive and well.

May 122009

Does your dog like to play with a ball?  Why do dogs like to play catch? Why do dogs love tennis balls?
Can dogs really see what is on the TV? How much do you know about the way your dog sees the world?

One of my favorite hobbies is playing with a ball.  I have many ways to play ball.

ellsbury-at-batOne is for somebody to throw it and then I go and run after it and catch it in my mouth.  Then somebody yells “Bring me the ball” and I’m supposed to bring it back, but I don’t always do that. Sometimes, I do, but sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes my parents will have to say, “Joey, come” and I’m supposed to come with the ball, but I don’t always do that, either. Sometimes I drop the ball, and then come to them, leaving the ball behind. Then they say, “Joey, bring me the ball” and here we go, all over again.

Sometimes I’ll bring them the ball, but I won’t drop it. Then they say, “Joey, sit” and then “Drop it” and “Drop the ball” and “Joey, Drop it” until I finally let go of it.  I like this game.

Another game I like to pay is toss the ball high in the air and catch it with my mouth.  I play this by myself, and I am proud of this skill. I can play this for a long time.  Sometimes when we have people over our house, I will start to play this game as a way of attracting their attention and as a way of saying “Play with me”.

Now that I’m wounded, I can’t play ball either with them or by myself.

The closest I can come to playing ball is watching baseball, as you see here.  I’m watching baseball with  my parents so that we can spend time together.  Baseball is very big where I live.  I’m a little interested in the motion on the screen.  In these lugo-at-batpictures, my team is at bat.

We won this game, by the way, 4-3.

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