Whew…I am worn out.

My mom is an exercise nut. She thinks I should be too. So today we went off to the park. I actually played with another dog for a few minutes.

My mom was so happy. It was pathetic. She gets so excited when I play with other dogs. “Good dog, Gracie! Keep playing!” she yells. How embarrassing.

My playmate was a beautiful friendly golden retriever, just like her friend Bill’s dogs. She really misses having a big fuzzy dog like the sainted Keesha.

Well, after about 40 minutes in the park, I was ready to go home. I headed purposefully for the gate. My mom reluctantly said we could go … and then she took us on another walk to the Vine Street garden area. “Hyacinths! Tulips! Forsythia!” she exclaimed happily.

We were home about an hour after we started. My mom was in good spirits. She had even been to zumba class this morning so I was waiting for her to grab me for a nap. Alas, no: she had to work, she said.

Fortunately for me, dogs don’t work. I am crashing. Gotta get rested for Tuesday’s adventure with Aunt Sara.

Fashion comes to the dog park (though not to us)

My mom was so impressed when she saw this small dog in a pink coat.

“That dog is SO cute!” she exclaimed. She insisted on taking a picture. As far as she remembers, the dog is Bella and the owner is Tasha.

Notice how Tasha has chosen a beautiful pink coat for her dog – very becoming in color and style. And Bella’s owner is so well-dressed. She’s wearing fashionable high-heeled boots, even in the dog park.

Needless to say, I’ll probably never get a pink coat trimmed in fake fur. My mom says I’d chew it up. She’s probably right. And of course I’m not as small and furry as Bella.

“You’re cute in a different way,” the mom says firmly. “And you don’t need a coat. You have adventure outings with your Aunt Sara. Be grateful!”

If my mom had human children, their therapy bills would cost more than care and feeding of a dozen large dogs.

To be fair, my mom hasn’t worn any shoes except sneakers as far back as she can remember. She wears her aging parka to the dog park … and also to the symphony, the ballet and her improv classes. “I couldn’t squeeze my feet into those beautiful boots,” she says wistfully. “It’s nice to see people in the park who can add a touch of class.”

Our Dog Park Gets Artistic

Before my mom moved to Seattle, and well before I was born, our Regrade Park was a bad place. Bad people would go there and do drugs, my mom says.

The only drugs we have are my prescribed medicines and some catnip for our feline housemates. I like a little catnip myself but I am  a sensible creature. I eat it. The  cats go nuts: they’re rolling on the floor in all sorts of undignified positions. So if that’s what humans do, count me out.

This wall originally was supposed to be a handball court and once someone had a basketball hoop. That was a long time ago.

When the park became a dog park, my mom learned, all the crime vanished. As she points out, “If you’re up to no good, you don’t want to walk through a park with large German shepherds and Rottweilers.” Frankly, I avoid the large boys myself.

Recently the park’s residents donated funds for a mural to celebrate the park. So far we’ve got the background – Seattle, what else? – and eventually dogs will be added. My name will be there somewhere because Cathy donated in my name. She didn’t ask if I’d rather have a doggie coat, an extra walk or a new toy.

I guess the mural’s okay. Today my mom heard that the artists may draw dog pictures, including a poodle. A poodle? This is a dog park for mixed breed royalty, like me. We run the gamut from purebreds to … well, dogs like me who have several breeds integrated into a pleasing, perfect mix. Words like “mongrel” and “mutt” are not allowed in my presence.

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.

New pup in town at the Regrade Dog Park

As a senior dog, I need to keep an eye on things at the dog park. These days I don’t enjoy rough play the way I used to. I don’t care for being knocked down and pawed over. I like to sit on the wall and snuggle up to people. And of course I like to meet and greet all the new dogs.

Ruby is a new pup adopted by Lindsay, the former steward and ongoing mayor of the dog park. Lindsay sits on the wall with her faithful guide dog, Jasper, and keeps an eye on things. Ruby is a brand new pup – probably a pit bull – who is extremely sweet and gentle. She’s getting socialized to other dogs and people. She’s awfully small. Ophelia would eat her for breakfast.

She’s growing fast. By the time you read this post, she will be bigger. Meanwhile, it’s nice having a kid around…as long as she doesn’t try to make me play like a pup again.

Taking Time Off…Our “Dress for Un-Success” Way

My mom keeps bemoaning the fact that she will never be glamorous or gorgeous. She can’t walk across the room in most dress shoes. She’s seriously thinking of giving away most of her clothes when we move. She will keep just one emergency dress-up outfit and decline all invitations to anything where she can’t wear shorts, jeans or sweats. That’s my mom’s idea of going to heaven before she dies: never having to dress up again.

Last Sunday fit our description of “perfect way to take time off.” First my mom went to the gym where she did some Pilates and worked on her biceps. She likes George Sommerrock’s classes.

Then we got on the bus and headed out to West Seattle to see my Uncle Lance. He’ s my mom’s mysterious friend who refuses to let us use his real name…even his first name. My mom has a feeling we get invited just because of me. When my Uncle Lance gets his own dog, I will be invited to come over and play…and oh yes, my mom can tag along too.

My mom bought a couple of things at the Farmers Market (I had to stay outside and get fussed over). Then we went to the dog park. By then I was pretty tired but I managed to run around the grass and trees. It’s a great park: the real deal. No wood chips or cement with a fence. My mom suspects I used to be a country dog but I’m not telling. Like Uncle Lance, I guard my privacy.

Shortly after taking this photo, my Uncle Lance bundled us into his car to drive us home. He knows my mom’s navigation skills and sense of direction would get us home by way of Spokane. Even when he’s got GPS, she jinxes our journeys. We always get lost. No exception today.

We detoured about ten miles south. Ddon’t ask me how -I was stuffed in the back seat. Uncle Lance’s car is built like a space ship with doors that open and close. I have to jump in fast and get out of the way. Anyway, my mom said, we got a gorgeous view of Mount Rainier up close, just like a post card. I wouldn’t know. I was sound asleep by the time we left the park.

Are Canadian dogs better behaved?

Last night my mom Cathy went to a meeting for her neighborhood, Queen Anne in Seattle. I had to stay home in my crate but when she came back, I could tell she had been talking to my good pal Lindsay, the Regrade Park Dog Steward.

The meeting was about changes to Kinnear Park, a magnificent natural park that’s a short walk from where we live.  My mom loves the views of the Sound but I like the smells of the squirrels.  The only problem is, I am not allowed to run around loose and chase those wonderful squirrels. My mom says there’s a movement afoot to install a dog park and  I, for one, can’t wait.

Our small group was led by an architect from Vancouver, BC. He said, “In Vancouver, dogs don’t have separate parks. They can run loose on the trails for certain times of the day.”

My mom was puzzled. “Don’t the dogs escape?” she asked. I wasn’t there but I can just imagine.

“Canadians train their dogs,” the man said. “They don’t run away.”

Oops. My mom has been eying me ever since she came home. Training? I’m the ultimate escape artist. Good thing I wasn’t adopted by a Canadian family.

Back in the dog house…again.

Monday was a beautiful day, by human standards. When the weather seems good, my mom drags me off to Regrade Dog Park in Belltown, I’m supposed to play with the other dogs but in reality she likes Belltown with the brownstones and the city-gritty ambience. As a dog, I prefer the more rural dog parks but my mom points out that we don’t have a car and she never wants to drive in Seattle, or maybe anywhere.

So Monday we go to the park and some nice man is there giving out treats to his dog. Delicious treats. Rich treats. Bone marrow treats. My mom will never, ever buy me treats like that. She likes healthy boring treats that are supposed to be good for me.  And she really, really hates having people give me treats.

Well, I snuck a few of those wonderful treats. When it comes to sneaking treats I’m the best. My mom would have taken me home but then I started running around. That always gets her. “Yaay – Gracie is running!”

That evening I demanded to Go Outside at 8:30 PM. At 10:30, when I demanded another Outing, my mom knew Something Was Happening That Was Not Good. She shoved a pill down my throat, guaranteed to restore my tummy back to normal.

At 2:30 AM, she didn’t even try to be polite. “You were the one who wanted to go out,” she muttered as I took my time finding the Perfect Spot. “At this hour we are not walking very far.” Then she whisked me into my crate, which was a good idea.

By the time my Aunt Sara came to pick me up, I was feeling my usual lively self although my mom refused to give me breakfast. “We’re not taking any chances,” she said. She was not in a good mood. My mom needs her sleep.

“I can take a nap,” she said, “while you play in the park.”  Thank goodness. I was happy to escape.

My readers will be relieved to know I finally got some dinner: a little warm rice. Not exactly what I’d call a satisfying meal for a work-hard, play-hard dog. But even I know: sometimes a dog just has to keep quiet and let her snugglng speak for itself.