Sunday, February 28, 2010

Signs of spring

Now that the ice has melted and the weather is warming up, we're seeing more dogs on our walks, so constant vigilance is required. So far this weekend, we haven't had any big smackdowns. We encountered a pug and a larger dog yesterday in the underpass, which forced me to do a quick reverse and dodge around three runners. I mentioned that we were trying to avoid the other dogs and one of them said she has the same problem with her Dalmatian. Always good to know we're not the only owners whose dog needs to learn some manners.
There's something cult-like about border collie owners. I went to the Arlington Farmers Market yesterday and one of the vendors had a beautiful small BC named Pepper in his truck. He said he grew up with border collies and can't imagine having any other kind of dog.

Friday, February 26, 2010

High winds

The latest snowstorm hopscotched past the DC area and went straight to New York. All we got was gusty winds. And that wasn't necessarily bad, because the wind acted like a giant blow dryer on the path, eliminating most of the moisture. So hopefully I'll be able to retire the big boots this weekend.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Seeing pavement at last

Hallelujah. Zorro and I were able to go for a three mile run yesterday. I got my shoes muddied in one spot, but for the most part the path was clear. And the snowstorm we were supposed to get bypassed us and went straight to Philadelphia.
Had to go back to boots this morning because it was still icy. And because we went out a little later than usual, we encountered a few dogs. I'm working on the "look at me" queue, which works pretty well when the dog is in the distance, not so well when the dog is fast approaching. For those instances, I'm working on "Let's go," followed by a rapid turnaround and a retreat into the weeds or wherever. He definitely understands the command; now the key is to make it rock solid.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ready for spring

So very tired of ice and snow. Yesterday was warm and sunny, which led to a melt and refreeze overnight. I slid on some black ice this morning and went down. Fortunately, I landed on my rear so only my dignity was injured.
The only good thing is that we rarely encounter other dogs. Only saw one this morning and didn't see any this afternoon. It's raining now and generally miserable.
I took Zorro to doggy day care this morning; my hope was that a day spent bossing around other dogs would wear him out. It seems to have worked: he's passed out now.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Happy day

Both walks today were uneventful. No unleased dogs, Dobermans, or lost shoes. Managed to walk across the top of the snow this morning; it was slushy tonight so we had a messy walk.
I must have made quite a picture this morning: I saw a dog approaching at Bon Air Park, so tried to redirect Zorro by running through the parking lot. In my big boots. I probably looked like some Army recruit, forced to work out in full gear.
Zorro saw the moon tonight on the way home and that also created a comical scene. He wanted to run, but because the snow is so soft and slushy, he couldn't, so he belly-flopped. I'm sure his distinguished ancestors would have been mortified.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Taking it to the streets

Tried a new route this morning that involved more pavement and less ice. It felt good to wear running shoes and feel the ground under my feet. But before we reached plowed territory, we had an unfortunate encounter with a neighborhood Doberman that brings out the worst in Zorro. He and his owner came up behind us fast and I didn't have anywhere to redirect Zorro, who began to growl and lunge. The Doberman responded in kind. I ended up plowing us both into a snowbank and losing a shoe. The owner was weirdly serene about the whole thing: he said, "They're really interested in each other, aren't they? You never know how a dog is going to react to another dog!" All the while, I was shoeless and holding on to Zorro for dear life and desperately wishing they'd just keep moving.
Actually, that owner had the right idea: I'm told that dogs can sense anxiety. Some of the posters on the border collie message board recommend humming a tune. Good luck with that when your dog is charging a hound that looks like he had a role in "The Boys from Brazil."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Trying to stay upright

Our morning and evening walks are growing ever more challenging. I have two choices: navigate the path made by the sleds, which is slippery, or wade through the snow, which is still above my ankles on some places. Zorro can't figure out why we aren't running; he slides around, too, but has a lower center of gravity and rights himself quickly. Meanwhile, I'm trying to stay upright while holding on to Zorro and keeping an eye out for other dogs. Left early this morning but still encountered the Unleashed Dogs at the end of the path so had to take a detour.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wild dogs

With a foot of snow on the ground, we don't see a lot of dogs on our walks. Unfortunately, those we do encounter are often unleashed. In addition, the snow has blocked some of the detours I usually take to redirect Zorro, so this morning's outing was especially challenging.
The first unleashed dog was a friendly black Lab mix who checked us out and bounded away. Not a big problem. The second, a short-haired yellow dog, got up close and when Zorro growled, he responded in kind. I hollered at the owner to please call his dog, but it was tense. I know I'm supposed to remain calm in that situation but that was hard to do when Old Yeller bared his teeth at Zorro.
Worse, we encountered both dogs--who apparently are playmates--on the way home, right in front of the path that runs by our house. I took Zorro behind the soccer field--not a big deal ordinarily, but today we had to wade through snowdrifts to get back on the path. Both of us were worn out when we got home. Note to self: start earlier tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


The entire DC area was shut down by a giant snowstorm last week--big not just by DC standards but by any measure. At around 10 PM Friday, we heard a big boom and then the power went out. It didn't come back on until Sunday evening (five minutes before Super Bowl kick-off). I wish I could say it was an adventure, but it was mostly wretched. It was very cold outside, and as the weekend wore on, the house got colder. We kept the fireplace going, but it's not very efficient (unlike our woodstove in WV, which I missed desperately) and the wood we have was smoky. So by Sunday morning, the house was cold and covered with a layer of ash. The living room, where we camped out, looked like a Red Cross shelter. That suited Zorro just fine: he liked sleeping on the floor next to Denny and me.
The only way to stay warm was to keep moving, so we took Zorro for lots of walks. He loves the snow but prefers to stay inside the paths carved out by the sledders. We shoveled out a crooked path from the back gate to the back porch and he loves to dash through it; it's like an agility exercise for him.
Had a great walk this morning; hiked up to the top of the hill where the kids have been sledding all week. We're supposed to get up to another foot by tomorrow night. At least Zorro is enjoying himself.