11 July 2008

Run, Puppers, Run

This evening was only our third biking adventure and Boss Lady is already upping the ante. And she’s not following the rules. Generally, when you are perfecting a behavior you increase expectations for only one aspect of the behavior at a time: duration, speed, accuracy, etc. Boss Lady knows this rule, she’s just ignoring it. Tonite she increased both speed and distance. We biked twice as far, and we biked quite a bit faster. Neither of which further endeared me to biking.

Let me explain a few of my complaints against biking. 1. There is no sniffing involved. Even when we’re walking, despite the fact that I’m not allowed to lolly-gag, I have plenty of opportunities to sniff. Not while biking, though. While biking I am running (or trotting, as is more often the case) and it is quite difficult to sniff while running. 2. There is no peeing involved. I’ve been living in this town for several years now, and I’ve been traversing it’s streets and sidewalks for just as long. I’ve gotten to know lots of the other local pups through pee-mail. We leave messages for each other on strategic objects. While Boss Lady only allows extended pee-mails in a few places, I am certainly able to leave short messages in many, many places while we’re walking. When biking neither long nor short messages are possible. Let me put this succintly: I need to pee on things to make sure other dogs don’t forget I exist. 3. I cannot look at other dogs. Boss Lady doesn’t allow it. No, sir, she said, don’t be looking at other dogs while we’re biking. In fact, she continued, don’t even think about looking at other dogs. And that Boss Lady, she knows when you’re thinking about looking at another dog. Trust me, you don’t want her to have to tell you to stop thinking about another dog. It’s not fun. 4. It involves a bike. As I’ve already stated, I don’t like bikes. Nothing involving a bike is enjoyable.

Now that I’ve made transparent my feelings regarding biking, I’ll give a short recap of our latest biking adventure. As mentioned above, we biked further than on our two previous occasions. Boss Lady thinks maybe we covered approximately 1.5 miles. That’s not counting the very short walk to and from our biking area. That’s about twice as far as our previous attempts. Faster. Yes, we went faster. Boss Lady maintained at least trotting pace the whole time, with the obvious exceptions of when we were practicing stopping. She even had me up to cantering pace a couple times. Not that she’s exactly sure what a cantering pace is. That Boss Lady, she’s no horseman (and no need to be playing games of semantics over horseman vs horsewoman). She’s been on the back of a horse a total of maybe 20 times in her whole life. She barely knows the head from the tail. Regardless of whether you can call our pace a canter, though, she ran me hard. So hard she ran the poo right out of me, as she so inelegantly put it.

Anyway, she intends to try harder next time to discover just how fast we can go. Me, I intend to make a stronger effort at biting the bike’s tires next time.

09 July 2008

Stop that Bike! It's Kidnapping Boss Lady!

I don’t like bikes. Never have. When we’re hiking at Pine Hill Park and a bike comes up behind us suddenly, Boss Lady has to get me off the trail and into a down immediately. If she doesn’t, I bark and even lunge at the bike. She figures that I get startled by how quickly they appear and/or I want to chase them because they’re moving quickly. Honestly, I just don’t like bikes. So, when I heard Boss Lady puttering around outside this morning, and I looked out the window to discover her being kidnapped by a bike, I quickly sounded the alarm. Had she called for my help or seemed a little less in control of the situation, I would have gone right through the window to save her. I wasn’t about to let some evil bike steal her away. Who knows what it would do to her.

Recognizing how distraught I was, Boss Lady came in the house and explained things to me. A bike, she said, is just like a car. It lets you go places quickly and takes you on grand adventures. It doesn’t look like a car to me. Well, it is, she assured me. And then she brought me outside to meet the bike. I didn’t want to go too near it, never can tell what sort of behavior it might exhibit. I was more than a little worried when it started to kidnap her again, but at least I was right there to protect her. She told me she was going to let it kidnap her, and I was supposed to run along beside her. I have to tell you, I wasn’t so sure of her plan, but I could tell I wasn’t going to talk her out of it.

Off we went, down to the flat swamp road below our house. She said it was an ideal place to practice our plan because it was flat, little traveled, and is very grassy along the side. Apparently the grass is for my benefit. I had a little trouble figuring out exactly what my job was. It seemed much too simple that I was only supposed to run along side. Surely I was supposed to bite the tires every few minutes to remind the bike not to try anything funny. And, surely, I was supposed to get in front of the bike to tell it to stop when we needed to stop. No. Boss Lady told me very clearly that I was not supposed to do either of those things. I was only supposed to run along side the bike. Once I figured that out, things went fairly smoothly. I trotted right along and even got up to a real run. It was much harder than I expected. Takes a lot of energy out of a dog trying to keep up with a bike. Fortunately, we didn’t go very far. Probably not even a mile. Then we went home, and Boss Lady put away the bike.

I am informed that we will be regularly practicing this whole biking thing until I am quite comfortable with it. At which point, Boss Lady plans to employ it as an effective exercise method for me. All I have to say is that bike better behave itself, or I’ll tear it apart. I won’t allow it to kidnap my Boss Lady

Who's Laughing Now, eh?

Boss Lady and I went swimming yesterday afternoon. Somebody else beat us to our regular swimming hole, so we went downstream a little bit. It was still plenty deep enough for swimming and plenty of room for splashing. Instead of just rolling up her pants legs and wading, Boss Lady actually went swimming. As I was splashing around on the bank, digging up rocks and pulling down dead tree branches, Boss Lady was testing her swimming muscles. The results of that test? She has no swimming muscles. I looked over to see her just swimming away, and not making any progress whatsoever against the current. I stood there laughing at her, and then splashed right in and swam right past her. Ha! I said. Ha!

You might recall that in the spring she put me in a similar position. Convinced me to jump out into the fast part of the river and then threw lots of rocks to convince me to keep swimming even though I wasn’t making any progress. She called it a swimming treadmill and thought it was a grand trick. And now that I see from the other end how this trick works, I must agree, it is grand. She seemed not at all bothered that a) I was laughing at her and b) she wasn’t making any progress. Part of the problem, she claimed, were the crocs on her feet. She claims they create quite a bit of drag, as well as impeding her kick. Furthermore, the rope around her wrist, which is connected to my harness at the other end, also seems to create a problem. It ended up wound around her arm several times. Besides, she said, she rather enjoyed swimming in place. Frankly, I don’t care about her excuses. I’m just glad to see her suffering the same trick she played on me.