Saturday, February 13, 2010

I'm Dog Sitting This Weekend

Penny, a nobly beautiful Chocolate Lab

Penny, a sleekly elegant Chocolate Labrador Retriever, is in residence with Beau and me this weekend. While her master is in San Francisco, Penny is wagging her rather strong and clueless tail (which makes me dive to move breakable things out of the way of this dangerously slashing appendage). She belongs to Darren, a housemate of my friend, John Baker. Beau and I spent a week with Penny when we first arrived in Portland and while I was waiting to close on my house. About two years old now, Penny is one of the most beautiful Chocolate Labs I've ever seen and she has a lovable personality. She is still slender and hasn't turned to fat the way so many Labs are allowed to. She's got a pink nose and soulful eyes and a Pantene-shiny coat. Full of high spirits and bags of energy, Penny is the one dog Beau and I have encountered who actually can get him moving. She loves to play with him, and Beau resists and resists until he has no choice but to join in. They wrestle and it's a lot of fun to see my slacker dog engaged in some sort of physical activity. The only thing Beau doesn't like is that slashing tail and if she catches him in the wrong position, its a comical thing to watch Beau being slapped senselessly by Penny's tail!

Penny arrived last night and settled down relatively quickly. I took the dogs out for a final spin at 10:00 PM and they walk together pretty compatibly. Penny can be let off her leash, which her owner allows, but makes me nervous. When I was staying at John's, I would walk both of them together and let Penny off the leash in her familiar territory. Penny is, however, a superbly trained dog, and comes back to you after she's retrieved her ball with no fuss or without having to resort to yelling and calling her.

Yesterday and this morning, I took Beau and Penny over to the park across the street from my house for some exercise. There's a big bowl where dogs are let off their leashes and allowed to run. Darren left me this plastic device, called a "Chuck-It" which allows me to fling a tennis ball a great distance. Penny chases after the ball and returns for an endless round of fetching. It allows me to drain off a lot of her energy, something I'm not at all used to with Beau, whose idea of exercise is to jump up and down while waiting for me to feed him. Yesterday was relatively dry, but an overnight rain soaked the park and within seconds, Penny was covered in mud. Worse, I sent her after one ball which landed in the center of a rather large and muddy puddle. Penny retrieved the ball easily, but then simply sat down in the puddle, wagger her fanny and then splashing joyously before returning to me with a mud-dripping ball and a determination to climb on me. Beau and I avoided her, sneering at her slopping tomboyish reveling.

Penny, cleaned up and resting, after a strenuous work out at the park across the sreet.

Beau sleeps with me, and Penny hopped into bed as well. A shameless beg hog (as is Beau), Penny stretched out to her full length which left no room for me. Beau staked out the top area of the mattress near the pillows. I made Penny come down off the bed, rearrangd the mussed bed linens, crawled into bed and motioned Penny back up. Within seconds, I had to forcibly re-establish my territory. Beau was not at all happy about having an interloper in his bed. But Penny settled down quickly. In no time at all, the three of us were snoring in unison. Around 4:00 am, Penny jumped off the bed and went downstairs. Not even 30 seconds later, she was back, but not in the mood to get back in bed. Nor was she interested in her own bed which was on the floor next to mine. She normally sleeps on a very large and comfortable chair and ottoman in the TV room of John's house. I brought her over to a large chair and ottoman in the landing room right next to my bedroom where she curled up until this morning when she bounded back into bed with us at 7:00 am.

I'm grateful Penny and Beau get along. Feeding them is a bit of a chore. Usually Penny's dish is higher and with easier access, I have to pick up Beau when I put Penny's dish on the floor. But I'm also happy that I have a smaller dog. A big dog like Penny needs to be drained of energy every day. She has stamina and would happily walk for miles. Beau and I do not have any stamina, and prefer the creature comforts of a bed, a couch, or a chair.

After this morning's romp in the park Penny arrived home covered in mud. Worse, she is an insidious influence on the normally fastidious Beau. Beau avoids puddles and mud. Not today. I had to hand towel them down with large wet sheets of paper towel and brush the dirt out of their coats. Beau will definitely need a grooming when Penny leaves on Tuesday.

The latest orchid in my burgeoning collection.

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