A dog’s dream weekend

We were fortunate enough to be invited to visit a friend this weekend at their new holiday house in Julian. A couple of plusses about this:

  • I’ve never been to Julian.
  • They have a son just a year older than our youngest.
  • They love dogs and Sayla was invited to come too.

So the group consisted of four adults, three boys and four dogs. Two old (13 year old!) dogs called Onslow and Mimi and a youngster, Koori, who is about to turn 1. Koori and Sayla had the best time. Sayla had to learn to use her first doggie door and also got to experience snow for the first time. The dog politics and socializing was most interesting to watch, and there were various skirmishes as they worked each other out.

We arrived in heavy rain on Saturday afternoon, it was cold and the wind was howling. As evening approached the rain turned icy and then lo and behold, it was snow. Beautiful. The house was warm and comfortable and we got to look out and see the whiteness growing.

Even better was Sunday morning: clear, crisp and blue. We headed out for a hike down to an area with old gold mines. Koori and Sayla ran and ran and explored, covering probably three times the distance the humans did. Our eight year old struggled a bit on the way back but we all made it.

The old saying about a change being as good as a holiday? Well this was both. Wonderful!

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Dogs and good karma

An amazing day here in Southern California. Who would believe the temps? Mid 70s! The beach was just stunning, blue water, blue sky, white tops, people and dogs, no wind.  We met our friend V who has a lab Ginger and a puppy Brownster who is a big boy at just 3 months old. Ginger had a litter of 8 puppies in November, 4 yellow and 4 chocolate. V kept one of the boys and he is just a honey. Sayla was very tolerant of him as he wanted to wrestle and play and exert his boyhood muscles.

We meandered up and down the busy shoreline, chatting and watching the activity all around us. My 8 year old son was with us, he had a nasty fall from his bike on Saturday and grazed his nose, lips, shoulder, wrist, knee … you get the picture, and has been feeling very sorry for himself. But I’m sure the sea air and being outside was therapeutic for him – and us all.

Happy Valentine’s Day to friends and lovers everywhere!

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Meeting Pepper

We had the strange experience of meeting another Catahoula Leopard dog who was really like ours … her name was Pepper which reflects the dark brindled coat that both dogs have, that looks indeed like salt and pepper. She was a slightly bigger dog and her ears were larger and upright. The other big difference was that she had a TAIL! Sayla’s has been docked so short as to be a total non-tail. Poor girl. Pepper also had a similar marking down her chest of a crooked white blaze and some white on one paw.

It was interesting to talk to the owner about his dog and the way their relationship works. He says that they have a deal where she gets two walks a day (like us) and that Pepper starts to watch him like a hawk for clues that she is about to go out. For example, putting on shoes … he described her as a very alpha dog with tons of energy, loving to run and jump.

He had adopted her as a pup of about 3 months of age. She had a broken back leg that needed to be set but the leg had healed really well.

Sayla and Pepper were not that friendly, which was a shame. But Sayla seemed a little subdued that day so maybe it was her.

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Being yourself

We enjoyed walking with our friends P and Daisy the golden retriever yesterday. Did the big loop around by the horse stables and then continued on to a local coffee shop for warm refreshments and a bagel. By the time we got back two hours had passed and somewhere between four and five miles had been trodden!

Along the way we chatted about what was happening, the kids (7 between us, ranging from 8 to 19 years), how much money one needed for retirement and glue-on butts! Don’t ask … but do. P is going to the opera tonight and got a fab new dress, very figure hugging and the latest accessory for such attire is some sort of device to shape the buttocks. What will they think of next? I guess they might look all right but what about how they feel?

Our happy dogs just enjoy being themselves and don’t give a moment of thought to how they look, I think there’s a lesson in there.

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To leash or not to leash

One of the ongoing challenges we’ve had with our dog is that of getting her to come back when called. Pretty basic and pretty frustrating. Here are some of my theories on why it’s been such a problem with her:

1/ she was 6-9 months old when we got her – past the deep puppy bonding stage

2/ her breed (Catahoula Leopard) is fiercely independent and her hunting instinct takes over in certain situations

3/ we did something wrong in initial and basic training

Whatever the reason, it has been stressful and worrisome for us as dog owners because this is a dog that needs to run, freely and wildly, and really do her own doggy thing. So I always feel sort of guilty walking her on a leash but have had some truly awful times trying to ‘catch’ her again at various locations.

I am sure this debate has raged mostly in my head and Sayla is unaware of it except for those times when she has ended up shadowing me home because she simply could not bring herself to me and have the leash put back on. And then me being really really mad with her!

If anyone has advice or wisdom they’d like to share – please do.

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Dogs and beaches

On Friday we met our friends down at Dog Beach in Del Mar. One human and one dog friend. It’s a nice patch of ocean just opposite the race track off Coast Highway 101 and for nine months of the year it’s a place for dogs to swim and run and have a great time.

I hadn’t seen Kuri since she was a puppy and now she’s 10 months old. She and Sayla enjoyed each other’s company and a favorite activity was taking turns rolling in old rotting seaweed. Neither are true water dogs, and don’t swim, but enjoy running along the shallow waves.

Sayla made a special friend in a handsome Australian Shepherd called Cooper. He was quite taken with her! Embarrassingly so! But he was good-natured about being told to behave …

A relaxing way to start the weekend.

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About Sayla

We adopted Sayla from a great animal shelter near us called Helen Woodward Animal Center. It was a big decision to get a dog and had been years in discussion. Our middle son was about to turn 13 and we thought it might be the right time, for him and for us. My private terms and conditions were: 1/ a female 2/ not a puppy 3/ not too big. So in the end not too many dogs fit the criteria.

Sayla’s original name was Bourae, kind of exotic, but a bit hard to pronounce and not very feminine. She came from a shelter in St Francis, Mississippi and her primary breed is a Catahoula Leopard Dog.  She was about 35 pounds when we got her and they gave her age as 9 months. We have had her nearly 3 years and she’s filled out beautifully to around 56 pounds. She’s an athletic and agile dog and really needs her regular exercise.

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