Friday, January 30, 2015

Visiting National Parks With Dogs

A few days ago me, Kerrigan, Ben and his Mom took a trip to Death Valley National Park.  Visiting National Parks with the dogs is not something I love to do but it is certainly something that can be done.  I am not talking about all of the areas that are managed by the National Parks Service, just the Parks.  National Recreation Areas, National Monuments and other areas all have different policies and some are more dog friendly than the parks.  For a lot of good reasons National Parks tend to have a very restrictive dog policy.  For the most part pets are limited to paved areas and campsites.  They are not allowed down trails or in buildings and must always be on a 6 foot or shorter fixed leash.  Honestly I think this is a great policy.  The National Parks are great for observing wildlife and a natural habitat- dogs are not a part of that.  Also many parks have a lot of wildlife that can be dangerous to dogs.  While eating lunch at Death Valley there we had a coyote walk about 50 feet away from our picnic area.  Kerri was not upset but if she was off leash it could have been a very different story!

Due to all the rules we tend to stick to BLM land, National Forests or other outdoor areas but occasionally we are out and about and stop by a park with the dogs.  They really are the most beautiful places in the United States and sometimes we can't pass by the opportunity to check them out with the dogs.  Last week was one of those days and I think me and Kerrigan made the best of the trip.  We did have to sit on a bench while everyone else enjoyed the Visitor Center, then sit on a bench while everyone else went on a hike but we got to see a beautiful sunset while waiting there so it was totally worth it.  Kerrigan also got to do some other fun things like...

  • Give Ben kisses at the lowest point in the western hemisphere!  Do you see that little white sign way up on the mountain?  That is SEA LEVEL!  We were standing at about 280 feet below sea level.

  • Take Artists Drive.  A beautiful scenic drive full of volcanic rocks that make the mountainside look like it was painted.
  • Visit the Devils Golf Course.  According to the Park Service it is an immense area of rock salt eroded by wind and rain into jagged spires. So incredibly serrated that “only the devil could play golf on such rough links.” 

  • And finally do a lot of sitting around near No Dogs Beyond This Point signs waiting for the family to come back.  Luckily this often involved treats so that's ok.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Hiking in the Desert

We took a little hike out in the desert (a Joshua Tree forest to be specific).  Sometimes on easy hikes or picnics we just take Copley.  He loves his people more than anything and although he lives happily in a multi-dog home I still like to take him out with just us from time to time.  Plus Kerri gets to do all the technical hiking on her own because Copley can't handle it so it is only fair.  It is BLM land so there is no leash law, and it is the middle of winter and actually was quite chilly so all the snakes are curled up for the winter so he got to explore quite a bit.  Although mostly when we weren't walking he laid in the sun.


Leashed while on the "road"

Looking like a lion

Peeking around the Joshua Tree

Copley and Ben Footprints

Did I mention how happy I am living in a place where THIS is the middle of winter???

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Nova's New Year Resolution

Nova may have made a New Years resolution she didn't tell anyone about.  Or perhaps she just woke up on the right side of the bed on the 1st... and again every day since.  On new years eve she was relaxed and comfortable with strangers in the house, then the next morning she sat inches from Ben gazing lovingly up at him and excitedly wagged her tail when he moved.  

In true Nova fashion she made all of this progress at once, on her own, when I least expected it.  Let me paint a picture of what exactly happened.  We were having three people over for New Years dinner.  As usual with a small number of people who I trust not to engage with her I didn't crate Nova.  I do always make sure when people come over she is wearing a shirt and often I give her some Anxithane- a pretty mild and relatively natural anxiety pill.  On this night fireworks were going off so Copley also got a pill, but Nova seems to care less about fireworks.

When our guests arrived Nova did bark when the door was rung, but then ran over and sat near them.  When a group of us were standing outside the kitchen she sat politely underfoot looking up.  On a few occasions I actually had to tell people not to pet her.  The thing is she did look too nervous for my comfort when people reached for her, so I decided not to let them pet her, but never before has she gotten so close to anyone other than me that they would have the opportunity to pet her.  Later while we were playing a board game in the living room Nova literally frolicked on the couch.  She has been known to joyfully bound around in the very soft throws I put out for Christmas, but only when we are home alone.  A week ago I never would have imagined her doing anything other than worriedly starring at guests from the corner of the room.

In the days since then she has even started doing tricks for Ben, not just me.  All amazing progress and I am so proud of her!  I am also pretty excited that we are going back to basic obedience class tomorrow- not because she did bad the first time per-se, but because it really helped her to go out to a class with other dogs and people.  Since she isn't really in a position to do anything other than a mild version of basic obedience I am just repeating that.  Nothing wrong with sticking to what works.