Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Desperate Landscapes is Renovating a Dog Park

While doing research on dog park design I made a delightful discovery, groundbreaking has just happened at the 2011 Beneful® Dream Dog Park.  I was even more excited to discover Jason Cameron, who hosts DIY Network’s “Desperate Landscapes” and is managing the renovation. I hope this means the park construction will be filmed.

The renovated dog park, which will be unveiled in summer 2012, will include many fun features, such as water splash pads to keep puppies cool during the summer; exercise paths with hills to climb and tunnels to explore; a large fetch field for big dogs and a mini-fetch football field for small dogs.  The best feature in my opinion is the community gathering spot, which will be used as a fundraiser.

Marley is a bit upset to discover the 2011 Beneful® Dream Dog Park Contest winner Honey Belle was able to participate in the groundbreaking at the new dog park. Marley thinks all groundbreaking is her responsibility.

Honey Belle Breaking Ground at the 2011 Beneful Dream Dog Park .

I'm looking forward to learning more about the construction of the renovated dog park.  Actually, I'm dusting off my graph paper and I'm starting my design for the 2012 contest.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fun at the Park

 Marley and I invited Rose and Axle to the park with us the other day.  Rose, the pitbull puppy is at that teen puppy age where she knows what you want and will think about it before giving you a full body pout and maybe doing as you asked.  Axle is the tiny black chihuahua that doesn't know he is a tiny dog.

Rose and her big brother Axle. 

Rose really wanted to play.

Marley on the other hand spent some time interacting with other dogs. 
 "Hahaaa...the dog doesn't realize how uncool he is in a sweater!"

 "Will you play with me?"  

"What do I have to do to convince everybody I don't play with puppies"

"Please make Marley play with me"

After a while Marley surprised everybody by initiating play with Rose.  It was very cute, Marley walked up to Rose, bumped her and took off running.  She then circled back to bump into Rose and play bow. Unfortunately, Rose doesn't consider the chasing game as fun.

 Play with me, please

When we first met Rose she was smaller than Marley.  She is now a big girl who is working at becoming a service dog and once she overcomes her teen puppy stage, I'm sure she'll be great.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dog Park Tour

Marley and I love traveling and I've become interested in dog park design. One cool and overcast day we gathered two friends with dogs and piled into my car and set off on the 2009 Dog Park Tour.

While Marley had fun sniffing and meeting new dogs, I spent the entire time photographing cool and unique features at each park.

Phoenix Park in Fair Oaks
I love this park, it has three sections:  Large Dog; Timid/Tiny Dog; and Small/Gentle Dog.  They are very careful of the lawn and they tend to close the park to prevent damage the lawn.  I would advise you to check their website prior to heading out.  My favorite feature is their pool area, which is surrounded by permeable pavers.  Permeable pavers allow water to soak through to the ground and prevent the area from becoming a muddy and unsafe.

Auburn Ravine Dog Park in Lincoln
This is simply the largest dog park I have ever seen; both the small and large dog areas are gigantic.  We parked in the rear and entered through a fun nature area.  The small dog area has a huge old oak tree in the center.  The best feature is the french drain at the water faucet.  It directs the water away and prevents a muddy mucky mess and it looks fantastic.

Bear Dog Park in Roseville
This is considered the best dog park in the region;  I think it is nice and has some great features.  The small and large dog areas are a substantial size.  There is a walking path with decomposed granite with a grassy area in the center.  There are a lot of shade features and this cool puppy play equipment area.  Both the sides of the park have the play equipment.  The park also features a dog shower where you can hose off your dog prior to taking him home.

C Bar C dog park in Citrus Heights
The large dog area is enormous they have a shady oak grove towards the rear and it is fabulous if you have a large dog.  The small dog area was added after a tragic accident and is rather small.  The coolest feature is the Hole in the Fence so you can toss out the used poop bags.  It struck my as a unique and totally cool.

William Hughes Dog Park in Roseville
I found this park by accident, it is a hidden gem.  While on the small side overall, both sides are a good size.
The best feature is a fenced off quarter for training.  This is simply awesome of you want to work on some off leash training.  This is also one of the only parks with a dog like sculpture on the outside.  I love the dog angel bench.

I'm starting to plan for 2012 Dog Park Tour and I would like you to recommend any cool parks that you have visited.  We like road trips so location is not a problem.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Being Promoted

It feels like I've been in the same agility class forever, all my classmates have either moved on or dropped out. I have to remind myself we took 6 months off of agility and therefore it is not actually forever.  Some of the things we are still working on are:

  • Dog Walk - We were working on a running dog walk and Marley is not consistent.  We've practiced this a lot and she will sporadically just jump. We are now switching to 2 on/off. 
  • Weave - We are literally about 3 inches away from weaving.  My instructor finally asked me if I don't like training the weave poles; I think the answer was pretty obvious. 
  • Handling - Yep, this is me.  I am always surprised when Marley is exactly where she is supposed to be and I'm never prepared with the reward.  I've been told this will improve with practice.
Marley is doing great and our instructor has indicated if we can weave by the end of the month we are being promoted to the novice class.  The novice class will focus mainly on handling skills and preparation on trialing. 

It seems like we are on schedule to reach our goal of trialing this year.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Marley Day!

Today is Marley's gotcha day!   
I can't believe it's been 4 years since I picked her up at the vet. After looking for her for about a year I was very nervous about bringing her home; so far it has been great.  I simply can't imagine my life without her. 

While others celebrate their soul mates and others celebrate their singleness, I'll raise my glass of bubbly to Marley.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Good dog...Really?

Marley and I attend a dog park fundraising committee meeting about once a month.  I make sure she has had exercise prior to the meeting and after greeting everybody else she quietly lays at my feet.  Every time I check on her she is quietly sleeping.

I recently had to skip a meeting and I discovered Marley does more than just quietly sleep at my feet.  The Committee Chair mentioned her sons were going to miss Marley.  I was a bit perplexed because I haven't seen her sons during our meetings.

This dog is not as innocent as she appears.

Turns our while I think my dog is quietly sleeping at my feet she is doing the following:

  • She naps with her husband
  • Watches TV with her sons
  • Escorts them to the kitchen for snacks
  • Convinces them to share their snacks
  • Sleeps on the furniture
Overall, Marley makes herself at home. I don't know how she does it all and yet manage to be under the table every time I check.   

Monday, February 6, 2012

I have to ask the crazy questions

Agility is a lot of fun and way more complicated than I ever expected it to be, it always looks so easy on television.  I am the only student in class who has not competed in Agility with another dog.  Actually, I'm the only one in class who doesn't already have a dog who excels in another sport.  We have some very talented people in class and I'm very honored to learn alongside of them.  This however, brings up situations where I'm totally lost while everybody has already moved on to the next lesson.  This means I'm the one who asks a lot of questions.

A few weeks ago our instructor gave us a slightly complex sequence and while we were all looked a bit baffled she said, "Walk the Course!"  Everybody starts to mutter while swinging their arms in the air, it looks like some kind of tribal dance. I was still trying to figure out the sequence and didn't pay much attention to what everybody else was doing. I managed to fumble my way through the sequence.

The following week, it happened again, this time we had a simple sequence and our focus was on tight turns over a jump.  She said "Walk the Course!"  Everybody starts wandering about faces fiercely concentrating while arms are swinging about.  I of course, follow the more experienced students and after a minute realize I have no idea what they are doing.  

This means of course I have to ask the crazy question (and I'm sharing so you won't have to in a similar situation).  I turn to my instructor and say, "I don't get it, what are we doing?"

Everybody kind of stops and looks at me, which makes me feel like I should know what I'm doing.  My instructor looks a bit baffled and she explains the exercise again.  Now, I'm totally embarrassed and wish I could stop asking remedial questions but I continue.  "I know where we are doing, but where is Marley supposed to be during the exercise."  

 Well it turns out "Walking the Course" means you walk the sequence and you visualize where you are in relation to your dog.  

The uncomfortable embarrassed feeling was awful; however I'm happy I asked.  Not only did our instructor explain this but it reminded her that I'm still new and she is offering more support when she asks us to "Walk the Course.