White Dog and the rest of The White Dog Army got some major Park time this morning. We went not just for little play and exercise, but also had a breakfast picnic in the shady green grass. White Dog loves the Park on Sunday mornings because it is full of people walking other dogs (both on- and off-leash), families with children, frisbee golfers. Not only can she stretch out her legs in long flowing zoomies across the rolling landscape, but she can indulge her social nature, visiting with other pups and people in her role of Ambassador. And when she has had her fill, WD enjoys sitting and just watching the world go by, belly on the cool grass and intent eyes following all of the action around her.
Quinn likes going to the Park mostly because he knows he gets Steve time and they walk slowly at his pace, stopping to smell a million great spots and aimlessly wandering, pressure-free in the moment. The Other White Dog is pretty oblivious to those around him but is our most patient and tolerant of being fawned over by strangers and children. TOWD never gets totally comfortable enough to just lie down publicly and prefers when he is tired to go back to rest in the car (windows and slider door open, of course, so that he can still see us). From there he smiles beatifically as he rests on his cushion and sips from the water bowl.
Going to the Park for Nuka is a new experience. Another White Dog is making great progress at learning to be social but she is still excitable. Her deafness works against her in this environment because she is often startled by people or frisbees or other pups just magically appearing in "her space". But AWD is a great walker and even does well with Michael leading her. Since she can be snappish (her defense when surprised) Nuka is the one pup that we tell strangers they cannot pet. It is always takes me aback at how many take offense at being told "no," but we feel that AWD is not yet ready to deal with the myriad of possibilities of strangers approaching and confronting her. She seems ok with standing at a heel, wigging wagging her tail and yipping a greeting from distance.
Puff is loosening up enough that she is finally beginning to see a value...besides not being left behind...to the trip. She still sticks right on Steve's heel or next to my wheelchair but there is more of a bounce to her step and SAWD holds her tail high. This morning, she actually tried rolling in the grass (once again following WD's example). The people and loose dogs still make her very nervous and she tends to press tightly against one of us when encounters occur but now instead of cowering, her intelligent eyes chart the exchange and show less fear.
YoYoMa loves the Park almost as much as White Dog does. He runs on the end of the leash through the grass and he rolls and he stretches before flopping down to focus on the sounds. It amazes me to watch his "watching" with his ears...he turns his head and tilts and ears swivel as he homes in on one scene or another taking place around us. He does not like strangers coming up to him but YAWD responds well if he can touch either Steve or myself as he "meets and greets." I often pray that should I ever lose my sight, that I will be as well adjusted as he is with his blindness. This morning he even let Michael walk him down the path for several yards before reacting to Michael's over enthusiasm at this progress and wanting to come back to my side.
Park time is very different for The White Dog Army than our solitary hikes in the wild. Even eating is different, with more distractions, but gratefully with no less enjoyment. Every one of the White Ones like the experience and get not only exercise for their bodies but also for their social skills and for their healing psyches.
Steve and I always come home proud of the WDA--they receive compliments where ever we go for their looks AND behavior. We know Park time is a workout for them all; and they are all happily nap ready when we return home.