Friday, September 03, 2004

Second Doggy School Picnic
Empty beach at Hagar Park Lake MichiganWednesday evening was the second doggy school picnic at Lake Michigan to make up for the horrid weather we had at the first one.

It was beautiful. The temperature started out in the low 80s (F), the sun was shining, and the water was calm.

Hagar Park is one of the few "dog friendly" Lake Michigan beaches. It is approximately forty miles west of our house. A very pretty drive through the Michigan countryside.

It was hard to decide which little dog to take. Sunny went last time so it was Pappy's turn. On the other hand, Sunny loved it the first time, it was her third birthday, and she is going to miss going to doggy school next week because of Labor Day. So, Sunny got the nod and away we went.

Since it was a weeknight, the beach was almost empty when we arrived. I admit I was surprised - but pleased - to find so few people there. The twenty doggy school dogs were the only dogs there.

Labs having fun at Hagar Shores Lake MichiganThe golden retrievers looked like they were having the most fun. They ran, swam, chased sticks, and shook themselves off on everyone and everything. But the goldens were just more obvious about their pleasure. Every dog there enjoyed the picnic in their own way.

After Sunny and I went down the fifty-six steps to the beach, I was able to lure her out into the knee deep water a few times. Her knees, not mine. The water was about two inches deep at most.

It must have been doggy peer pressure at work because Sunny has never liked getting wet. Sunny is a small, fourteen pound dog. Two inches was a lot of water from her point of view.

After a while, Gail the trainer started giving swimming lessons. I hesitated on letting Sunny participate, not knowing how traumatized she was going to be. But she seemed to be in a receptive mood, so I allowed it to happen.

Gail took Sunny out over Sunny's head, about eight or ten feet from shore, and set her down in the water. Sunny's eyes bugged out of her head, but she held her head up and paddled to shore. Then she ran around the beach in a big circle and came back for more.

When I picked her up to hand her back to Gail, Sunny was willing to go back in the water. She swam the distance and ran her victory loop three more times before the end of her successful swimming lesson.

I really do think that Sunny had as much fun as the goldens. It was just a different kind of fun.

Sunset at Hagar Shores Lake MichiganThe food was wonderful and plentiful. Gail grilled brats and everyone brought a dish to pass.

Two of us with little dogs ate with our dogs sitting in our lap. The rest of the dog owners were amazed that a dog could sit next to a plate of food and leave it alone.

The other small dog was probably trained to leave the food alone. Sunny was unsure enough of her surroundings that she wanted to be on my lap and she knew if she nosed my food, she was going to get set down on the scary ground.

My little dogs are very very smart.