Highs and Lows

Life with dogs is never dull, always educational, and sometimes humbling.

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Anyone recognize that cute Shepherd-mix on the cover? The dog who is demonstrating solid down-stays for author/trainer Nancy Tucker’s informative article that appears in this issue?

That’s Nova, one of the nine puppies I was fostering for my local shelter last fall, and wrote about for the November 1, 2018 blog. Nova was my favorite of the bunch – very keen to interact with humans, very confident and sassy – and the first to be adopted. She landed in a terrific home, with an active young couple who spend tons of time training, playing, exercising, and educating themselves about dogs. Best of all for me, they live close by, so we often get together to walk our little pack of dogs. After a few months in his role as the patient and always playful “Uncle Woody” to the large litter of Nova and her scrappy siblings, Woody is overjoyed every time he sees Nova and her mom; it means a super-fun hike is in the works!

Nova’s placement is also a win for WDJ, since she’s a smart, well-behaved dog and her mom’s proximity and training acuity means they can model and demonstrate for articles in the magazine – often, I hope! Working with them has definitely been one of the highlights of putting this issue together.

The low-light? I have spent weeks testing these ball-throwing devices, to Woody’s delight. He has gotten to play a lot of fetch and is probably as familiar with their various sounds and operations as I am. But I have to watch Woody with tennis balls – the kind that the ball-throwing machines throw the best. Woody, with his great big head and powerful jaws, can pop and chew up a tennis ball the way a big-league baseball player can chew through an entire pack of gum – fast and loud.

Also, he cannot be trusted around those miniature tennis balls; a couple of years ago, he grabbed one away from a friend’s little dog and swallowed it, quick as a wink. At about 6 p.m. on a Friday night, of course! (Long story short, the emergency veterinarian induced vomiting, and it came up and out as easily – if less enjoyably – than it went down.) Those balls are just too small for him to safely be around, so I have been separately holding the three small balls that came with one of the ball-throwing tools away from the rest, taking them out only when I specifically need to test the small balls.

When it came time to photograph all the ball-throwers, I put everything in my car: all the tools and all the balls I had – and I could find only two of the small balls. Ack! I thought I was managing the situation so well! Of course, we could have just lost one – but just in case he actually did manage to find and swallow it, I’ll be keeping an eagle eye on Woody (his appetite and his poop) for a while (and I threw the other small balls away!).

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