Mammal Mondays: Pirate of the North Saskatchewan

If you’re not Canadian, or for whatever reason have never heard of The Arrogant Worms, check out the original song here on You Tube. Otherwise, you’re not going to get the pop culture reference in my post title, and that’s a sad, sad loss.

The Electrician and I hopped in the Element, otherwise known as the squarest, greenest little SUV around, and took Sherman for a run at the off-leash dog park this weekend. Edmonton has a number of lovely dog parks, but we went to Terwillegar, which features acres and acres of parkland and forest, like so:

This is the original photo from Saturday, straight from the camera.

During the hot summer days, though, our favorite part of the park is down on the North Saskatchewan River, which looks like this:

Somehow I got a river shot without seventeen muddy dogs in it.

Sherman used to be timid around the water, venturing in just far enough to wet his toenails before dashing along the sandy/muddy bank and caking himself in river-scented slop. Something changed a couple of dog park visits ago, and Sherman is now an exuberant river swimmer. I think he’s following my excellent example, but that’s because I’m so humble. Saturday afternoon hit 27 degrees Celcius, and Sherman hit the water.

I didn't get many good action shots, since Sherm was generally moving too fast for (digital) film.

He actually swam way out into the water a few times, which is a first for him; I think he’s figured out that the water feels beautifully cool on his warm doggy self, and that this part of the river generally isn’t deep or fast enough to be risky.

I had to zoom in like crazy to snag this shot.

Unfortunately, the fun was blackened by Sherman’s river piracy. He has an embarrassing habit of stealing toys from other dogs, because he’s sometimes a bit of a jerk. It’s never a situation where he’s an aggressive thief who wants to start trouble: he just figured out early on that other dogs will chase whoever has the stick/ball/frisbee/random lump of sod, and Sherman loves nothing better than a good game of dog tag. He believes wholeheartedly that everyone is playing along and having fun, while I chase him all over the place and/or try to trick him into returning to me so I can return the pilfered item. My dog is a playground bully, and it’s humiliating.

Yes, I know recall is tough to train into dogs, particularly high energy dogs like Sherm who really see no issue with running at top speed away from their mommas. We’re working earnestly on Sherman’s recall, but it’s still hit and miss. Like all other things, though, training him really only works in the situations where the distractions are strongest. There is not even a hint of aggression in this spotted dog, so I don’t worry that he will start a fight and hurt another doggy or a person. Also, I only allow him off-leash in dog parks where a road is no where in sight, so there is no change of him wandering into traffic. Sherman should settle down within another year, and I’m hoping then that recall will settle in for him too; I can’t wait to have a dog who returns with his tongue flapping behind him like a scarf when he’s called instead of scampering away with a “chase me!” glance over his shoulder.

Luckily for him, I can’t stay mad at a dog who looks like this for long:

He's one of those charming pirates, a real ladies' man.

At long last, The Electrician and I lured him in with rocks splashed closer and closer to our feet, and my sweetie grabbed Sherman’s waterlogged collar. You don’t finally capture a river pirate only to turn him loose again, so we headed for home, treating Sherm to cheddar cheese, chest scratches, and ridiculous praise so he (please, dog, please) learns that coming back to the people who loves him is always a good option.

On the leash again, he finally realized how tiring piracy is.

It was a beautiful day for a swim. Unfortunately, my truck still smells like soggy pirate.

copyright 2011:

2 Comments Add yours

  1. FL Liz says:

    Jaunty little tune there by the Arrogant Worms. Good post. You have very nice dog parks there. We have an over sized dirt patch in our berg.

    1. Kay at Blue Speckled Pup says:

      That’s a shame about your crummy dog parks. I appreciate ours in summer because they become frozen wastelands for the winter months.

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