It was a typical Northwest day today: gray skies and drizzle. It wasn’t quite raining cats and dogs, more like raining kittens and puppies. Although many of our dogs come from Southern California with all of its sunshine and dry days, the dogs were not deterred by a little bit of water. Chuco and Oswald were quite eager to explore the outdoors, as you can see by the picture of Chuco impatiently jumping at the door.
So fellow kennel attendant Ellis and I harnessed up our two pals and headed out on a walk. We encourage the adventurous spirit of the dog! Loving every aspect of life, whether wet or dry, is just one of the many reasons to admire dogs. But we still must be practical, therefore our two walking companions were suited up in fashionable red rain jackets. This way they could appreciate the beauty and peace of a rainy day while remaining warm.
Chuco and Oswald were not the only brave souls to venture forth on this dreary day. Oswald was fascinated by a fellow rain wanderer: A man on a bike with his own D.I.Y. rain jacket made from a garbage bag. I think Oswald was impressed by his inventiveness, but knew the man’s jacket had nothing on his own dapper red jacket!
Today was a Seahawks game in Seattle. On our walk, we all encountered many a football fan who decided their passion for the sports outweighed any desire to stay warm and dry. Even though Chuco and Oswald were not wearing the team colors, the two trend-setting pooches received several complements from passing Seahawks fans.
While on our walk, Chuco and Oswald insisted we stop to smell all the interesting odors that the rain was stirring up. Oh, those shrubs and leaves and dirt smell so fascinating! I’m sure Oswald and Chuco think it is rather sad that we humans with our pitiful sense of smell can’t enjoy the refined pleasure of smelling every nook and cranny of a rainy day walk.
Sometimes though, a rain coat isn’t enough. We’ve had a couple of days where the down poor of rain was so strong, the dogs would have been soaked within minutes of their walk. Instead of raining cats and dogs, it was raining tigers and wolves. We walk dogs for many reasons: Exercise, stimulation and enrichment to name a few. So, when the day is so rainy that we cannot take the dogs outside, we must find other ways to provide these things for our dogs.
One great way to provide both stimulation and enrichment is through nosework. As noted above, the dog’s sense of smell is something amazing! Therefore, engaging dogs in a way that uses their nose is stimulating to the dogs. Here is how to do nosework.
What you need is delicious treats and several boxes.
First place the boxes in several different locations within a room. In some but not all the boxes, place a couple of treats. Bring the dog into the room and say, “go find it!” Don’t give the dog any hints, after all, dogs are scent geniuses and they probably won’t need any hints. When I have given dogs hints in the past, they seem to look up at me with eyes that say ‘Oh human, how you underestimate me!” Once the dog does find the treat in any of the boxes, celebrate! Tell them how good they are and make them feel special. Today, Mara and I worked on nosework together. She had a blast pretending she was a dog detective, hot on the trail of treats! This little lady with her powerful nose could solve any scent based mystery!
For exercise, there are plenty of fun ways to get your dog’s heart beating while remaining indoors. Our trainer Erin created this wonderful dog toy that Jayme is using in the picture. It is basically a dog version of the common cat toy utilizing a stick, rope and toy. The human swings around the toy on the rope while the dogs joyfully chase after it. This toy is a thrill for both human and dog. Every time I use this toy with our dogs, I end up in fits of laughter. It is so much fun watching all the creative and exuberant ways the dogs try to capture the toy while it swings around them.
Traditional methods of play work amazingly well in the endeavor to provide exercise for the dogs. We have beautiful tug toys that a troupe of clever girl scouts made for our dogs. The dogs love these toys! Harley and I had a fun round of tug-a-war with the tug toy. Harley really embraces tug-a-war with all his heart. He grabs onto the toy and shakes his head like he is doing a wild doggy dance. His long beautiful fur swirls around him. Harley gets completely lost in the merriment of play.
Another amazing, tried-and-true form of play is the classic game of fetch. What is more enticing to a dog then a ball! The ball may be still now, but at any moment the ball could soar through the air! Chuco and Madonna both looked wide-eyed with excitement and anticipation as they wait for that ball to soar!
With typical doggie enthusiasm, our ECPR dogs embrace and conquer the rainy day with joy and gusto. No rainy day can bring our dogs down!