Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Aziza’s Snow Day

by GDB Alumna Liz Halperin

12/29/2009, Portland, Oregon. We headed out early in the afternoon. I knew it would be dark when we arrived and rain had been predicted, so I was dressed for warmth and had my large flashing bike lights. I dressed my 43-pound black Lab Aziza in her bright yellow raincoat with the reflector strips and she always has two smaller flashing bike lights attached to her harness handle.

At two, the snow began to fall and stick. We headed out for the streetcar, which was only running intermittently. Zee was desperate to relieve, but everything looked different to her, so it took two trips before shed relax and go. But it was done, so at least I didn't have to worry about that! By then it was her usual dinner time. Ha. The streetcar finally came about 40 minutes later, and despite the NYC-style pile-on, everyone made sure we got on first with a seat in the disabled section.

Once off the street car, I thought about taking a bus to get to our next bus, but decided we both needed to take a breather from the crowds. Aziza was ready to walk, so we did -- about eight blocks. Slowly and carefully.
She got very excited when she recognized our usual stop; led me right to the pole and got a reward kibble for perfect targeting.

Amazingly, our bus came in only 10 minutes, but it was full with sign saying "Drop Off Only." Groans from the people waiting. But I went to curb edge and waved a lot. The bus stopped and let us on and then left. Wow. We got a seat. Zee was again incredibly patient through it all. I fed her kibbles periodically -- "appetizers" since dinner was late and it was a stressful situation.

When we finally got off at usual corner, I stopped and let her get oriented in snow; everything looked different. I could tell when she figured it out because her tail began to wag and she leaned into the harness waiting for a command. "Aziza, forward! Let's go HOME!" Off we went, she proudly guided me the last three blocks.

We got home, hours late for her dinner, but I decided that had to wait. She was ready to jump out of her skin after being so self-contained for several hours following regular harness work. We came in and I exchanged her "uniform" for the 50-foot leash. She was quivering with excitement as we went out front so she could run in the fresh snow. She raced back and forth and all around, sheer joy and stress release. Didn't slow, just raced and raced like a wild girl, stopping only to relieve herself. I threw her some snowballs when she started to slow down. I loved watching her both burn off the containment time and have such fun.

When we finally came back in, I dried her off and Dremeled her toe nails since they were soft. At last DINNER with extra 1/4 cup. She plopped herself on her new poofbed, snuggled down in it and that was that. What a good girl!

Aziz curled up on her bed


  1. Woo-Hoo! Stress relief play sessions are a sight to behold! After our New Years Day hike, we had one too... No snow or crowded conditions to be had, but there were a TON of of leash dogs. Combine that with the regular distractions to be had on the trail, and I wonder how my girl can have such great impulse control. Two Yellow Labs decided to follow us as their people discussed Bamboo's coat, she didn't even turn her head back, WOW. There was this one particularly huge dog, and his people decided that they would use a squeaker toy to recall??? their canine monster truck. While she did alert to the squeaker, she also continued on her way creating the space that we should have been given, again WOW! While I could ramble on about the poor handling of others, I'd much rather sing to and praise the worlds best guide! Yeah, and also engage in some well earned tug complete with snorts and wild abandon.

    Happy New Year!

    Seth & Bamboo.

  2. Thanks for the delightful account. I also see that my rambunctious golden retriever Suki needs to "unwind" at the end of a hard day.

  3. Hi! Liz - it's your fellow OR144 classmate! We had snow here in Houston, TX - a very rare sight - and Bina loved it - racing everywhere! She did eat the nose off our snowman, though. Ha!
    Stace & Bina