Friday, April 23, 2010

Half moon rising

Denny is back from a week in New Orleans so I get a break. Unseasonably cool this week but still lots of people and dogs in the park. We're managing pretty well, although a couple of days ago, Zorro had a meltdown over a boxer who went by too close and gave him a dirty look. Nothing I couldn't handle, just lots of barking.
I've noticed, now that the park is more crowded, that a lot of people are fascinated by Zorro. When I used to walk Snoop, it wasn't unusual for people to comment on his good looks, but with Zorro, they are intrigued. They want to know if he's a real border collie, and if so, is he really smart? Maybe they've seen sheepdog trials on TV or YouTube, or seen one of those "smartest dog" lists. (BCs are usually at the top).
We're scheduled to take him to a farm in Berryville in a few weeks to see how he does with sheep. Should be interesting. Off to WV today which is a little dicey because the moon rises around 3 and it's a clear day.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dogs on wheels

Ordinarily, Zorro isn't much interested in bikers. But this afternoon, we were passed by a biker who had a dog running alongside, on a tether. You can bet Zorro took notice. Fortunately, we couldn't keep up with them, although Zorro certainly tried.
Then, on our evening outing, we encountered a roller blader running with his dog. They went by so quickly Zorro didn't have time to react. I like roller-blading dogs.
In all the time we've lived in Arlington, I haven't spent much time in the park in the evening. It's a busy place. If an alien landed in Bluemont Park at 7 PM, he'd be hard pressed to believe there's an obesity epidemic in the US.
Last night, we watched two coach-pitch softball games, where the players--who looked to be 8 or 9 years old--took their eyes off the ball to admire Zorro. I suspect focus is a challenge at that age. On our way home, we ran into a pack of runners. Zorro didn't try to herd them, but he did feel the need to keep pace.
On any given night, there's a soccer game going on in the field on the other side of the creek. Sometimes we cross there, trying to skirt the game. That's difficult, because the boundries seem kind of fluid. Wherever the ball goes, the players follow. All of them are Hispanic, and their shouts of "Ariba! Ariba!" follow us all the way home.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hero to bikers

After last week's summertime blast, we're back to February. Cold and drizzly. I turned on the heat when I came home.
This is fine with Zorro, who prefers the cool weather. We saw only one dog on our afternoon walk, and he was pretty far away.
When it came time to cross the path and come home, I put Zorro in a "sit/stay" to allow a bike to pass. The bike rider gave us an admiring glance and I felt my chest swell with pride. As long as a dog isn't riding the bike, Zorro will give the bikers the right of way.

Too close for comfort

While Zorro's behavior has definitely improved, every once in a while he still feels the need to be a bad ass. Yesterday, he cut loose on a friendly yellow lab who happened to be passing by when Denny and Zorro got on the path. Zorro pounced. Denny said the lab's owner was "horrified." Worse, she knows where we live I was disappointed, because Zorro has been so well-behaved lately. He even looks at me (sometimes) when I tell him to sit, which is exactly what he's supposed to do.
But I still maintain some distance from other dogs. If a dog gets too close--which is what I think happened with the lab--he forgets everything I've been trying to teach him.
We're taking him to a farm in Berryville on May 23 that trains herding dogs on sheep. We have no idea what Zorro will do but it should be interesting.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Back in the tub

First thunderstorm of the year, and as soon as the first clap sounded, Zorro's tail went between his legs and he headed for the bathtub. He's out now, though, so maybe that's progress.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Making new friends

Some of the posters on the border collie message board refer to their dogs as having "never met a stranger," and that certainly applies to Zorro. He warms up to everyone he meets, confirming my suspicions that he wasn't abused in his former life, just ignored (and probably confined for long periods, which may also explain why he craves human company so much).
Yesterday, for example, while on our morning walk, a nice couple stopped to admire him, and he played it for all it was worth, nuzzling them shamelessly. After I told them about his obsession, they howled at the moon.
It's been very warm all week--up to 90 yesterday and today--and the bike path is starting to resemble the main terminal at National Airport. So strange: just a few weeks ago Zorro and I could walk two miles without seeing a soul and now we can't go two feet without bumping into a runner, walker, biker, or a dog. Zorro has been behaving very well around the other canines; he definitely takes notice, but hasn't barked or lunged for a while.
He did, however, wake us up at 4 AM when he saw the moon through the window in my office. Denny installed a blind in there to keep the peace but I forgot to close it before we went to bed.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

First Easter

So proud of Zorro: we had 12 people and six dogs--including a 12-week-old golden retriever pup--at your house in WV this weekend and Z was remarkably restrained.
I worried about potential problems all week, especially when Mom told me that Bogey, the pup, likes to hang on the other dogs' tails. But after a few growls and snarks, Bogey learned to stay out of Zorro's way. There were occasional dust-ups, but nothing serious, and for the most part, the dogs just hung out on the porch. Even walks were non-events, despite the fact that Zorro was on leash and the others weren't. (we debated letting him off-leash, suspecting he wouldn't go far from the other dogs, but Denny saw about 30 deer Saturday morning, and didn't want to risk it).
Zorro wasn't even the grumpiest dog: that honor goes to Binky, Dad's oldest golden, who has turned into a curmudgeon. Whenever a dog would get tooclose, he would emit a low, grumpy growl, like an old codger telling the damn kids to get off his lawn.
Of course, Zorro's ability to Play Well With Others has raised the question of whether we should get another dog. I told Denny he could get one when he retires. Taking care of one rambunctious BC when Denny is out of town is enough for me.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Birthday moon

Beautiful big moon last night, prompting several friends to ask whether I got any sleep. But with the help of a strategically-placed bedsheet, we had a quiet night. The moon was still up this morning, so we had a vigorous run.
Took Zorro to Dogtopia for the day to give myself a break. I'm also hoping that spending the day with a bunch of other dogs will prepare him for Easter weekend, when we'll be hosting at least 10 people and five dogs (including one 12-week-old golden retriever puppy). Denny says that's wishful thinking. The forecast for the weekend is sunny and warm, so my plan is to put them all out on the porch. I may use the baby gate to sequester Zorro if things get out of hand (the puppy likes to hang on other dogs' tails. I don't see Zorro going for that).