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It seems like it has been raining for about two months now. I sometimes get a little restless but I can, on the other hand, take advantage of gray skies and catch up on my reading. There’s still a formidable stack of brand new unopened books sitting on the coffee table tempting me. I scoff at the rain. The roof is sound, the sump pump in the old stone basement is armed and if dampness chills to the bone I will turn on the propane fireplace – and I will read.

Rainy Days in the Mountains

Rainy Days in the Mountains

Just as I curl into my favorite chair with a well reviewed new mystery novel, I smell revolution in the air. The girls – my two German shepherd dogs – are conspiring…

The girls can be the penultimate snuggle bed dogs. If either of us sleep in late Tsunami and Annie will just as soon join in. But once the day begins, they take it in earnest – there must be an action plan. Food, outs, games, walks, outings – it’s what they demand and generally my husband and I are willing to partake in dog doings. But not on rainy days.

In truth, the girls don’t like rain either. Products of routines, they thunder downstairs, leaping and yapping at the back door – a game that has played out every morning since they were puppies. I put my hand on the door knob and wait. Their faces anxious “Will she open the door?” they ask. Of course I will. I always do. “Okay, Annie, let’s sit nicely and she will open the damn door. If I had a thumb I’d open it myself,” Tsunami says. They sit smiling up at me. I open the door quickly before they break their sits and then we must repeat the routine. Something none of us really wants.

Their ages melt away as they leap from the deck – no need for stairs when there is an urgency for yard investigating, peeing and pooping and maybe a good ole game of bite the neck. Suddenly the frenzy ends – they’ve noticed the rain. Nothing gets by my dogs. They run to the shelter of the leeward hedgerow along the fence and shake the odious rain from their coats – coats that were bred for by German sheep herders to be waterproof and resilient. Try telling that to the girls. They amend their yard plans and proceed up the deck and with what can only be called hang-dog expressions look up at me pathetically. They want in. It is a day not fit for man or beast.

Annie Suffering in the Rain

Annie Suffering in the Rain

Like two working sheepdogs coming home the fields they demand their wipe downs. We concede and sop the remaining droplets from their coats. They plop into their deep, velvet, doughnut beds and wait for sustenance. While mixing up their breakfast I listen to the Weather Channel which assures me that the deluge will continue for the next few days. I glance at the coffee table as I chop veggies and chicken. The dogs watch me – specks of drool along their snouts. I glance again at the coffee table – a brand new Elmore Leonard mystery resting there in all of its virginity. If I was prone to drooling I would.

Breakfast is served. It is quickly devoured. The dogs exchange bowls in the hopes that one of them was remiss in licking off all food fragments. Then, off they go to their beds to properly digest a rather satisfying meal.

Perfect. My husband and I agree on our book selections. Fresh coffee is brewing. Life is good. Until the revolution.

Despite their age – 9 & 8 – they are active dogs who require quite a bit of exercise and/or activities. And generally we comply as it suits all of us quite well. Except on raining, reading days.

Very soon after I am comfortably ensconced in my chair, I hear Tsunami at the back door, delicately and quite cunningly she taps at the door with the tops of her nails. It is a distinctive sound – one not to be ignored. I get up – Annie follows me – in anticipation of a door opening ceremony. I open the door – the rains are heavy. The dogs stand in the kitchen and look out at the rain for a few seconds then walk off into the living room to try out the futon.

Back to the Leonard mystery – I re-read page one. Somewhere deep into page three the dogs erupt into fierce, ferocious barks, snarls, growls while leaping at the front door with fury. Startled, I jump up and look out the window for what must be terrorist invaders…nothing in sight except the rain. I tell them ‘quiet.’ They comply. But I see the devil in Tsunami’s ebony eyes. This is not over.

Revolution's in the Air

Revolution's in the Air

But Leonard beckons. I’ll give it another try. Maybe there was a meter reader out there or something – maybe it is not a canine conspiracy to stop me from my reading.

Back to my book. Almost immediately after I get comfortable and back into the plot I espy Tsunami from the corner of my eye. She’s zeroed in on me. With her most endearing smile on the sweetest dog face in the world, she plops her long snout right onto the open book. With the most loving eyes, she gazes up at me. I look into the living room and glance at Annie who I swear is cheering Tsunami on. So transparent these shepherds.

Enough. I have rainy day bored dogs. No sense fighting it. Let the games begin.

First event? “Go Find!”

This is a pretty simple game but it garners lots of enthusiasm as it involves all four of us. Tsunami is a trained Search and Rescue K9 but any dog can do this and I have never seen one who didn’t love it.

I take both dogs into the kitchen and hold them by their collars as Hal goes off hooting and hollering swinging a Kong on a rope. The dogs are psyched. They howl, yap, whine and lunge in delight. Soon there is silence – Hal is hidden. I wait – four shepherd eyes stare at me and wait too. “Hal?” I say. Again and again. Then, what they’ve been waiting for… “Hal…Go Find!” and the dogs are let loose.

We don’t have a large home. The dogs look in all the usual places – moving quickly and eliminating noted hiding places. Because our scents are throughout the house they must discriminate and find the freshest. This actually burns up a lot of energy. A working explosive detection dog is often rested after just a half hour of intense sniffing.

In minutes they are generally successful in finding Hal. We’ve added a little twist to this game. The hider is always hidden behind a closed door. The girls bark at the door in protest. But in a second or so, Tsunami leaves the ‘victim,’ as she has been trained to do as a SAR dog and comes back to find me. Annie understands this part of the game all too well and follows along leaping and biting Tsunami’s neck along the way. When Tsunami finds me she obediently sits in front of me and stares up into my eyes. “Good Girl,” I say. “Show me!”

The game resumes. With Tsunami in the lead and Annie again joining in with leaps and feigned attacks upon Tsu, I follow the duo to Hal’s hiding spot. They hit the closet door, barking furiously. I open it up. “There’s Hal!” My dogs are geniuses. The super sleuths of the canine world. We must all play tug in recognition of brilliance. Kongs on ropes appear and we tug and play and squeal in delight.

Second Event: Yoga

Yoga you ask? Yes, Yoga, an absolutely tranquil, loving activity that is good for you AND your dog. Our dogs are too rambunctious to start out a dog day with Yoga. I usually precede our Yoga with something high-paced, like the Go Find game, or if the weather is nice, an aerobic game of soccer or fetch or chase me. Something to take the edge off.

Yoga for dogs is a natural fit. Most exercises are on the floor – dog level. I don’t think we spend enough time down on the ground with our dogs. Try it out yourself. Sit on the floor and your dog will be delighted and automatically come to you. Especially if you are not armed with a brush, comb, toothbrush, or nail trimmer. They may be suspicious at first but once they realize you are down on the floor to just touch them and interact with them they will love you for it.

yoga dvd

The Canine Kingdom is featuring a Yoga DVD, with Amy Stevens. It is an excellent guide into the world of Downward Facing Dog, whether that special canine is a Great Dane or a Yorkie.

Semper Fido,

Marilyn

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