Dog Loves Strangers: Doing “The Lean” With A Total Stranger

Leaning against a friendly person in the Dog Park
Leaning against a friendly person in the Dog Park
I admit it: I love people…well, most people anyway. I can usually tell when someone’s up to no good.

And I’m very affectionate. Here I am in Regrade Dog Park getting acquainted with someone we don’t know. She’s talking nonstop on her cell phone. She interrupts to say “yes” when my mom asks if we can use this photo in her blog.

Notice that my legs are angled so I can a good, deep lean Aahhhhhhhh……. That’s The Lean.

My mom has pointed out that I’m not exactly a one-person dog, like her first dog, the sainted Keesha. “Gracie would go home with anybody,” she says. “She barely knows who I am.”

Oh come on, mom. When you’re ready to go home, I follow you to the gate (unless somebody else gets my attention). When you pick me up from daycare, I recognize you.

But hey, I’m flexible. If a better owner came along… um, better change the subject. Let’s get out of the park and go home to dinner.

Am I a fraidy-dog? And who cares?

Maybe you’re heard the expression “fraidy-cat.” Our cats aren’t afraid of anything, except maybe the vacuum cleaner.

My mom has been worried that I’m turning into a fraidy-dog. Here’s what happened. One day we went to Regrade Park, the off-leash park that’s just two blocks away from our new home. A big dog jumped on me. I demanded to leave. We did.

Then a few days later, the same dog was back … and the same thing happened. Now I hate going to the park.

Frankly, I haven’t been crazy about that park for awhile. I’m not as young as I used to be: I’ll be eight in just two months. That’s getting into senior dog status, my mom says. So I no longer want to jump around with a bunch of high-energy younger dogs. I like sitting on the wall and letting Lindsay, Sue, Andy, William or some of the other humans make a big fuss over me. On very rare occasions, my mom allows me to accept a treat. That’s even better.

But now I tug on the leash when we walk to the park. As soon as we get there, I head right to the exit with a purposeful expression.

“Oh no, Gracie! We just got here!” my mom says. “We have to de-sensitize you.”

For help she turned to Andy, who’s a professional dog trainer. He had a great idea. Treats. LOTS of treats. “Special treats just for the park!” he said.

“Liver bits?” my mom suggested.

Yaay. I love liver bits.

My mom is no dummy, although you might wonder at times. I get peanut butter only in the crate so I love my crate. If I get liver bits only in the park, she hopes I’ll learn to love the park. I’m not so sure.

After all, my mom isn’t a great example of bravery. She’s not crazy about water, heights, shaky bridges and a bunch of other things that she won’t let me share here. When she bought a house in Florida, she got Keesha because she didn’t want to be alone in the house with just two cats. Did I mention that she also had a perfectly functioning alarm system?

“If I get another house, I’ll need a second dog,” she tells me. “You’re not ferocious enough.”

My mom’s getting older, too. Unlike me, she refuses to admit it. Yesterday she dove right into a zumba class where she was probably the oldest person by twenty years. That’s the equivalent of me joining a pack of three-year-old feisty dogs and trying to keep up.

“Don’t tell George the Fitmonkey,” she told me as she limped out the door to take me on a walk. Her hips were sore from all those “swing your booty” moves.

“When I have to give up these gym classes, I’m giving you to Bill in New York and joining the great aerobics class in the sky.”

I could say a lot but I value my treats, not to mention my regular high-priced food and walks with Aunt Sara. So I’ll leave it to my followers to fill in the blanks.

Big Dog, Small Apartment

The New York Times finally gets something right about dogs! My mom read me this article about big dogs and small apartments. It’s in today’s paper.

We both agree. Dogs don’t run around their homes and apartments. They rarely even run around their own yards. They need exercise – long walks and places to run. That’s why I go to Magnuson Park with my Aunt Sara twice a week.

I’m not exactly huge. We won’t discuss my weight anymore, but I’m definitely in the small to medium range. My mom and I both say, “Who cares what you weigh? It’s all about muscle.” We’re both pretty solid and proud of it. My mom refuses to get on a scale, ever. I don’t have a lot of choice. When we go to the vet, they drag me to the scale.

But who’s counting?

“When I lived with Keesha, my first dog, we had a yard,” my mom says. “But Keesha wouldn’t play in the yard. She’d come and sit on the porch. So we’d go to the dog park. That’s what she wanted.”

Lots of people in our building have enormous dogs. They’re happy. We’re happy.

In fact, the mom says, a small dog can be a bigger challenge in an apartment. They yip and they yap. They run around like cats.

Just one point the Times forgot to mention. Dogs have crates. Even in our new spacious home, we have trouble finding a spot for my crate. My mom keeps trying to keep it out of the living room. Right now I’m in a hallway. Talk about being out of the way.

I tell my mom, “The only solution is to accept your dog crate as a piece of furniture. Who are you trying to impress, anyway?”

Sunny day with a cat

city dog and apartment cat enjoying sunFor once, Creampuff has the right idea. She’s snoozing in the sun. I’m sitting next to her so I can keep an eye on our ditziest housemate. We’re in Cathy’s office, trying to distract her from her work.

“Website makeover!” she mutters from time to time. “Hassle. Frustration.”

That’s where Creampuff and I get busy earning our food and treats. We lighten the mood. We give the mom perspective.

“Gracie, why are you lying in the sun?” my mom asks. “Dogs don’t tolerate heat well.”

True. Eventually I’ll move to my own bed and Creampuff will go off in search of new adventures. And in just a few minutes, I will nudge my mom with my cold nose, reminding her I need a walk. Her work can wait. I can’t.

More rice…

The vet can’t figure out why my tummy is still a little upset. Yesterday we went back and saw the wonderful Dr. Clare of UrbanVet in Seattle. We like the other vets but Dr. Clare is special. She encouraged Cathy to adopt me at once. Otherwise, who knows where I’d be right now?

Hmm….better not go there. Maybe I’d be living with Bill Gates or a family with half a dozen kids to spoil me.

Dr. Clare was very kind, even though she poked me in places that a Canine Urban Princess doesn’t talk about in public. No sympathy from the mom, though.

“It’s your own fault, Gracie,” she said. “You keep getting into the garbage. Your pointy little nose gets into everything.”

Well, why not? Is it my fault the streets are Seattle are filled with leftover food? Especially chicken…yum.

Alas, for awhile, my home diet may be back to rice. I’m not responding fast enough to the pills. Not to worry: I”m very healthy. My coat is good, I’m in great shape and I drink water. My mom says what really has her worried is that I’ve ceded the couch to the fat Ophelia. Now there’s a health problem waiting to happen.

The mom doesn’t want me to make fun of Ophelia, but how can I help it? She even makes funny noises when my mom tries to pick her up.

Dog Park Seattle: Great Place for Making Friends (Video)

Yesterday (Sunday) my mom took me to Regrade Dog Park in Seattle. The park was pretty busy. My mom said, “Well, we had about ten minutes of blue sky, so everybody came out to take advantage.”

I found a human to play with. This nice young man chased me all over the park. Yaay! I tried to scarf some food because he had some cheese, but he refused. Instead, we ran…and ran. My mom didn’t run. She followed me with her camera.

A little jagged, she says. “Now I understand what film makers mean when they talk about hand-held cameras.” See for yourself.

Pottery Studio: Dog gets a break (all too short)

Mom asked her classmate Megan to take a picture of us. She’s wearing a pottery smock thing (they keep some hanging on the door and she just grabbed one). There’s where Mom was working.

“It’s a pottery wheel, Gracie,” Mom explained.

“It’s noisy,” I wanted to say. “This place is not fun for a dog. There’s a big thing that roars and gives off heat. There are all these shiny floors. Nothing for a dog to do.”

“Keesha, my first dog, used to sleep while I worked,” Mom said wistfully.

“Keesha was older,” I wanted to remind her. “Anyway, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m Gracie, your dog du jour.” Dogs get a little sarcastic when we’re bored.

“Isn’t this better than being home in your crate?” Mom said. “Look at all the attention you get.”

Maybe a tie vote.

City Dog and Dog Owner Enjoy a Seattle Moment

Mom says people want some pictures of her, not just me. But usually it’s just the two of us, and I don’t have fingers, let alone opposable thumbs. Besides, I’m a lot more photogenic than my mom.

On Wednesday my mom announced that we were going to walk up to Queen Anne. Going up is a LOT harder than going down. On the way back, my mom was so thrilled with the view she insisted we walk over and take a look. Personally, I could care less about views. I’d rather dig for something more interesting, which my mom won’t allow me to mention in this blog.

We saw some tourists taking pictures. My mom said, “If I take a picture of your family all together, can you get a picture of us?”

They said, “Sure.” Mom struck a pose and I’m looking at her, like, “What is going on here?”

It turned out they were a couple visiting their son, who is studying at University of Washington. My mom likes to give people information about Seattle because it makes her feel like an old-timer. Well, we have our fourth anniversary coming up. You’re not a newcomer, Mom. But it’s kind of cute when you play tourist.

My mom wants me to add that she hadn’t planned to have her picture taken, so she was wearing her old shorts and sweatshirt. Luckily she got her hair cut so she looks a little ore together than usual.

Please write a comment to reassure my mom that she doesn’t look as awful as she thinks. Tell her she doesn’t look old, even if you have to lie.

Dog begging for treats in dog park

Here I am in Regrade Dog Park in Belltown, right in the heart of Seattle. It’s a warm Saturday afternoon. My mom wants me to get some exercise so I’ll be tired when she goes out tonight. So we walked over here. That’s over a mile, Mom. More like a mile and a half.  I thought I was getting adopted, not joining a hiking club.

This nice man had a box of  treats. I tried…and tried. But mom said, “No way. I don’t want Gracie begging for food in the dog park. We came here so she could get some exercise.”

I can be very persistent when it comes to treats. Mom thinks I’ll stop begging if I never get any reward. We all know: it’s an uphill battle.

Am I a cattle dog?

My mom and I went to the Farmers Market in Upper Queen Anne today. As we were getting close to the market, we were stopped by a couple around Mom’s age who exclaimed over me.

“She looks just like my friend’s dog!” they said. “Looks like a cattle dog.”

“Well, she knows how to herd sheep,” my mom said, peering at me.

We were interrupted as a large brown dog  of uncertain breed passed by. I had to jump over to see what was going on.

“No!” my mom yelled. “Where did I put my squirt bottle?” She dug into her big Farmers Market bag.

“She’s protecting you.” The nice stranger patted my head and rubbed my back. “Now Gracie,” she said in soothing tones, “you don’t have to protect your mom. Your mom can take care of herself.”

Obviously she doesn’t know my mom very well.

“But isn’t she part German Shepherd?” my mom said after I calmed down. “Look at that tail!”

“Could be part dingo.”

“And she’s from Snohomish County,” my mom said, puzzled. “What’s a cattle dog doing up there?”

“Cows are everywhere,” that nice couple said, getting into their car. “Have a nice day.”

And off we went to the market. Lots of goodies on the floor for me to gobble up, while the squirt bottle got buried under a bunch of Walla Walla onions. Saved from an identity crisis by distraction. You people could learn something here.