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Dog Days of Summer

July 27, 2009 Fido, Fitness, Friends No Comments

We just got back from a weekend at the Utica Reservoir, our annual camping trip with Jeff Barker & Gang. It’s generally the first weekend in August, but this year it had to be moved up a week because of family obligations. It was at this trip last year that we became concerned about Argus’ guarding problem and decided to do something about it. We hired a personal trainer, Matt Hibbard, to help us. We knew that this year’s trip to Utica would be a good test.

I was looking forward to the trip for several reasons. I got to take Friday off of work, I wanted to get in a long open water swim for triathlon training, I enjoy the peace and quiet that our granite island provides, and it’s always a good chance for me and G to reconnect.

Greg made the kayaking part of the trip more enjoyable this year by buying two inflatable kayaks. These are not some flimsy plastic things. Everything goes right on top and there isn’t a bunch of stuffing and hiding and otherwise piece-mealing everything into nooks and crannies. Plus, Argus is very stable in the back of one.

It was a small crowd this year — Jeff and Caryn, Ron and Jen, Rob, and us. Jeff and Caryn brought their respective dogs, Buddy and Rutzie. Jen and Ron also have a mutt named Sponge. It was clear from the start that Argus was going to have to let Sponge know he is boss. Luckily, he didn’t have a problem with Buddy and Rutzie this year (note – he has had issues with them in the past and has apparently gotten over it).

We got camp set up and joined the group around the campfire. Sponge came over to say hello to me, which had Argus on high alert. I was kind of instigating this behavior, knowing that we had the shock collar on Argus and it would be a goodopportunity to “teach him a lesson.” Well, things happened a little too quickly. Argus made his aggressive lunge toward Sponge and Iinstinctively put my leg out to create a barrier. My placement was a little high and my leg ended up in Argus’ mouth. CHOMP! Lots of adults screaming, dogs barking, and spilled wine. I came away with two deep puncture wounds and some scratches. I even had pants on!

Argus was forced to wear his muzzle, I medicated with wine, and the crowd recovered. Nothing like a little drama to shake up a peaceful evening in the mountains…

Saturday included a mountain bike ride that all of us participated in. It’s rare to get three women who mountain bike — and Caryn and Jen are much better at it than I am! I had intended to take the day off from working out, knowing that I was going to do a triathlon training course on Sunday. With everyone going, I opted to tag along. The trails were much harder than I had anticipated and it was a lot of hike-a-bike. I was pretty frustrated by the end, though trying not to let it show too much. Greg was very accommodating of me and held back with me for the most part. While this is very sweet, it makes me feel bad for him. Again, trying not to “scar” him from riding with me, I opted to keep my mouth shut.

I was happy to get back to camp, where we played in the water awhile and enjoyed happy hour. We then fixed our dinners (ours was veggie jambalaya from TJ’s, supplemented with cooked shrimp) and packed a cooler to watch the sunset atop the mountain. We retired by the campfire for more beverages and story telling. By this time, Argus and Sponge had made friends and there was no more drama to fear. Such a different story than what we experienced last year!

Sunday, I got up early for my biathlon workout. I swam ~40 minutes, which I hope equaled a little over a mile in distance. After yesterday’s difficult biking excursion, I opted to skip the bike leg today. I quickly changed my clothes at the car and went for a 6 mile run. This was a very hard run!! It was hilly and at altitude. I was TIRED by the time I got back to the car. After paddling across the reservoir back to camp, I sunbathed and read my book while waiting for Greg to return from his bike ride.

We packed it up for the day around 3:30 and headed home. Greg and I remarked that it was a much better experience with Argus this time, and the professional training really seemed to help. Last year, he would not listen to our commands and never backed down from any of the other dogs (including old Buddy). This year, he listened to and obeyed commands and was able to “make friends” with Sponge. In short, he wasn’t a complete pain in the ass. We realize that there will always be some hot-button situations for him, but we know how to better handle them and be prepared.

My leg is sore and quite possibly infected. I think it would have been fine if we had gotten it properly cleaned up right after it happened, and were able to keep it clean. All the dirt, granite dust, and lake water probably did not help my situation… I’ll keep an eye on it for the next couple of days and go to the doctor if it doesn’t start to heal. You can look at our pictures here.

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