Sunday, September 4, 2011

"Wow, guys, these things you call 'weekends' are awesome!" - Orent

The title of this post is what Orent muttered as he fell sound asleep in the backseat today... He has had lots of adventures for such a little guy (4 months old in a few days!)

His Saturday started off slowly, so when we took him to the park for dinner and a show (seriously) Saturday night, he was full of pent-up puppy energy. The show was a puppet extravaganza and variety show, complete with an acoustic carousel (i.e. no electricity involved). Kaytee was hired by Metromix Philadelphia to photograph the event, part of the Philly Fringe Festival.

Orent didn't stay long at the show (after trying to eat what appeared to be sheep shearings that later showed up as part of a giant wig!) though he did enjoy getting petted by some folks in the crowd. No, he and I headed down to "the bowl," a big muddy field down the hill from the show. The bowl is about the size of two soccer fields and is the local spot for catch, frisbee, soccer, football, dog running, and general socializing. He's been to the bowl before and likes to chase his frisbee and tennis balls and meet other (nice!) dogs* for a good romp.

Today, the bowl was extra fun because it was getting dark and we met some really interesting people.

First, Orent was running on his long leash, chasing a tennis ball in the twilight, when out of nowhere there appears a kid (about 6 yrs old, I'd say), dressed in bright red and yellow. The kid must be really good with dogs because he stood still like a statue while Orent calmly sniffed him. He introduced himself to me saying, "Hi, I'm Duncan." When I said, "Nice to meet you Duncan, I'm Max," he shook my hand. Then he wanted to know all about Orent. He thought Orent was a very good dog, and I agreed!

Duncan, who has Down's Syndrome, turned out to be a bit of a loose cannon, wanting to hold Orent's leash, chase and throw his tennis ball, and throw sticks for (and at) him. Overall, Orent was pretty good, though he did jump up and mouth a bit. Duncan handled that with grace, freezing like a statue again and saying, "Orent, I'm not a ball!" Everyone's favorite part was running up and down the hill together (it was my favorite because there was less mouthing and fewer errant projectiles). Duncan and Orent could become good friends... they both like each other, love to have fun, and aren't really into impulse control!

Orent also met a toddler who was in serious LUV with him. Like, really, LUV... if she could write she would have sent him mash notes in class and followed him around giggling and blushing. But since she was no more than two, she instead rubbed her face on his belly! Seriously! Kaytee fed Orent treats and the toddler's mom kept her away from his sharp ends, and I think they both enjoyed the interaction quite a bit.

All that running and chasing and socializing wore the pup out, so he flopped into a long down-stay at the outdoor table of a really good pizza place at the park while Kaytee and I ate dinner. He had a great Saturday night!

Then today (Sunday) we drove him out to Valley Forge to run and swim in the creek. First we put him on his long leash so he could walk like a puppy instead of being on the "Let's Go" command or pulling the whole time. We ran and chased his tennis ball and frisbee and generally frolicked our way across the fields. He did a great "Let's Go" to cross the street and walk over a bridge, and then we were by the creek.

We walked across a big muddy area that clearly used to be woods and undergrowth but got flooded by Irene. Then we were down by the cold, medium-fast, thigh-deep Valley Creek (I think that's it's name). Orent checked it out and did some happy wading and chasing his tennis ball in the shallows. Then I waded out deeper (up to my thighs). He did NOT like that. He tried to come out where I was and kept getting his nose in the water and retreating. Finally, he took a desperate leap out to me and discovered there was no bottom... and then he swam! Like he was born doing it! Of course, he tried to climb up my leg, and he immediately retreated for the shore, but still, he was swimming there for a second!

In the end, he swam out to me about three more times, and did some silly leaping in the shallows. He also enjoyed digging in the sand at the bank and climbing on the rocks. I think he liked the creek.

When we got back to the grass, he ran around and around in circles with that crazy puppy look and his tongue lolling out. I wonder if he was thinking, "land, sweet land" or if he was celebrating learning to swim or if the grass tickled his belly or his nose?

Finally we romped our way back to the car and he slept the whole way home... until we stopped to go through a car wash!

Orent was his usual calm and collected self during the car wash. Nothing, not the guys mopping the windows and hitting the tires, not the soapy wet flaps, not the jets of water and pink soap, not the sudden darkness, not even the giant hurricane-sounding air blower at the end phased him. He lay in the back seat, snoozing or gazing out the window, accepting the treats we offered. Sometimes he grinned and sometimes he looked a little "hmm?"-ish, but never stressed!

He even supervised (from a distance) as we cleaned and vacuumed the inside of the car. Kaytee vacuumed while he and I practiced sit, down, shake, stay, and roll. He's getting good at roll, meaning that sometimes when he wants a treat and isn't getting one he'll flop over and show you his belly. It's pretty much the cutest thing ever.

Yup, all in all, weekends are pretty great!

*It was at an earlier trip to the bowl that we learned that Orent has a hard time playing with pit bulls, even really sweet puppy pits. The reason? He's more of a hip-check kind of guy, and they're more chewers. They like to tug on the scruff of his neck or his ears, which made him squeal. He's also way too slow to run with even slightly older puppies of other breeds. We've been working on his cornering in our morning training.

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