Thursday, April 4, 2013

JAG & River Road Trip: Getting to Portland

We woke up in Olympia. One thing I forgot to say about yesterday was that after my client left we had a few hours before having to be at the studio, so we went for a walk. I put on River’s 30 foot leash and we walked along a frontage road that separated a quiet business district from the highway.

We walked for about twenty minutes and came to a grassy field. It was a gorgeous day and the big stretch of grass was so inviting, so I made a little pile of my shoes and socks and the things from my pockets and I sprinted to the other side of the field. River was so fast that one point, I thought he was going to pull me forward on my face, but I kept up. We rested a bit and then sprinted back to our home base pile of things.

We had done that five times (and River was having a hard time keeping up with me by now) when a couple of trucks pulled up onto the other end of the field where the baseball diamond was. One guy started smoothing out the dirt and the other guy, in uniform, started setting up the bases. We made our final sprint back and I started to get dressed. By the time we had finished our last sprint, the baseball player had started walking over towards us, and by the time I was dressed, he was with us, playing with River and telling me about his dogs. River rubbed his back on the grass with his tongue out. I told him we were just leaving, but we were far enough away from the diamond that he said they wouldn’t care, he just wanted to meet the dog.

So that was yesterday.

This morning, I wanted to let River run out his energy before we got on the highway, so we went back to the beautiful park I saw from the front of the Motion in Balance studio last night.
Again, it was a giant expanse of grass, but this one was manicured and at the other end was a big lake and sitting on the other bank was the capitol building.

I walked River from the car to the park with his nose lead. I have SO much more control over him this way. He doesn’t quite like it, and keeps trying to shake it off or push it off with his paws. But it doesn’t hurt him, it’s just annoying because it gives me so much control so he doesn’t want it on. There’s no pressure on him at all when he’s walking by my side, but if he strays at all, it pulls gently on his nose rather than by the neck as a collar typically does, or by the chest, like the harness that he usually wears. Once we arrive at the park, I switch to the chest harness with 30 foot leash, but when we’re walking through an urban setting, I have him by the nose.

There was a picnic table for me to claim as home base, and I set everything down but the leash and a rubber, S shaped toy. He chases it and brings it back to me and then teases me with it. He holds it out for me to grab and when I reach for it, he shakes it around so I can’t get a hold. Its wet from the dew and his spit and it’s slippery. I’m pretty fast, but he’s faster. Finally I’ll get hold of it and it becomes a tugging match. I always try to let him win at tugging. I’ve found its more fun for both of us that way. But at some point, I can hold up my hand as if gesturing STOP. Or if I tell him to DROP IT. He immediately drops all the intensity, drops the toy and looks up at me. He watches casually as I reach down to pick it up and throw it, sending him chasing once again.
We entered from the corner on the right and ran in the big, center grassy area.
There is only fifteen minutes of free parking in downtown Olympia, and I didn’t have any change and wasn’t comfortable going into a bank that a don’t have an account in, with a dog, to ask for change for a dollar. So we kept the park time short and intense. He was very connected to me and it flowed great. Even as interested people watched us and children ran through our play area, he kept focused.

At the edge of the park, there was a very attracted dog shopping with his owner, across the street, so I lost River’s focus. I switched him back to the nose lead, which took a while because I didn’t want to force it on him and it was hard to get his attention from the dog to giving me his nose. But we finally made it back to the car without a parking ticket.

River slept all the way to Portland.

At Motel 6, you never know what you’re going to get. The way I see it, its just one step up from camping. Technically, all I really reserve is a bed in a room with bathroom facilities and clean linens. But I am a loyal Motel 6 customer for many reasons:

ONE: They are exceedingly pet friendly. It is a dog and cat and people motel. Every one I’ve been to so far has a big, grassy area with a few trees and some bushes and a section that’s all gravel and a dirt section. Not haphazardly done, but these elements were worked into the landscape. I’m sure it’s no accident. Because dogs have peculiar preferences, based on scent and then from the substrate under their feet. So to satisfy all dogs’ needs, they have all those options.

TWO: They are the cheapest thing going. And since I’m fine with going no-frills as long as I have the basics, its great to know that I’m getting the cheapest price in the area.

THREE: They over deliver. I find their system very efficient at check in and check out and the staff is always very helpful. Sometimes in the room, there will be extras, like a refrigerator (and I can give my cooler the night off). Sometimes they throw in a microwave (and I can have hot food). I’ve sometimes gotten two beds and free internet, or...  like today in Portland,I got a studio with a couch, coffee table and dining table, refrigerator and microwave, giant TV and a vanity area outside the bathroom, (which I love because I tend to use that as part kitchen/part bathroom) and free internet.

So we went to a nearby park for a little play, but he was more interested in smelling the trees. After that we crashed in the room for a while.

That evening, I got hold of a friend of mine who lives in Portland and took River over to his house. He has two cats, and this would be a first for River. He’s only had a few encounters with cats. Mostly they run from him, which he loves, and responds by chasing them. But this was going to be his first indoor cat encounter.

He wasn’t out of control, but there were a few times, as my friend and I chatted, when River lunged after one of his cats. I’m not sure of his intention, but I am quite aware of his capabilities, so I never let go of his six foot leash, except for one moment towards the end of the evening, when I was showing off all of River’s tricks for my friend.

That night, I don’t remember being nudged in bed at all. I had set the alarm to wake me up because when those Motel blinds are shut, it’s so dark, I can sleep until noon. And when I woke up, he was still in the crate. I don't remember being awakened at all. So.... wow.

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