After we got back from the Keys, we headed to Maryland to visit family and friends. Our timing couldn’t have been better. Hurricane Matthew came up the east coast while we were in Maryland and battered St. Augustine, Florida, where we now live. We were fortunate and our house was fine. Others in St. Augustine were not so lucky and lost their homes or experienced significant damage. As we came back home, we had to take a long detour in North Carolina because of the significant flooding.
We are enjoying being back home and plan to spend some time kayaking and looking for some of the birds that are beginning to arrive and pass through Florida. We probably won’t hit the road again until January, so I thought I would take a few posts to share what it is like living with Dart. It may give some insight into what it is like to travel with him.
I will start by describing a typical day at home. When I wake up in the morning, I brush my teeth before I let Dart out. He begins to whine and yip as I finish brushing my teeth because he is excited about going out. He will not go out if Regis tries to let him out. He waits for me. I believe he does that because he knows that I am going to toss his flying disc for him. He can think of nothing else once the day gets started. I have to throw it even if it is still dark outside. I may not be able to see where the disc is, but I can almost always hear him catch it. He must have great night vision. He almost never misses.
After about the third or fourth throw, Dart will drop the disc so he can pee. If we are very fortunate, he will not pee on his disc during this process. He will catch the disc a few more times and then poop. Since this requires more moving around, this is when the disc is most likely to get soiled. Usually, we make it through this okay but sometimes his disc must make a round through the laundry. Then, we have to get a backup disc to finish playing. Dart prefers old, grungy backup discs over new ones.
Once he has had his fill, I bring Dart in to feed him. He waits patiently while I mix his protein, vegetables, and vitamins together. Last January, Dart began to vomit whenever I fed him commercial dog food. Therefore, I started making his food for him. I use Dr. Karen Becker’s book “Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats” for guidance to make sure all his nutrition requirements are met. I have no problems with him when I make his food and he is very healthy. He has hardly any fat on him. As a bonus, his poops are significantly smaller. He loves his food and eats it all. For those of you who read my blog posts last year, you may remember me saying I was going to feed the dogs money because they poop more than they eat. This is no longer true!
Then, I get to eat and Regis makes me a cappuccino. (That’s one reason why he’s a keeper. He makes a GREAT cappuccino.) I read the Washington Post and then get up to go to the bathroom. Dart stands outside the bathroom door and starts yipping and whining. Why? Because he knows the next move is to go for a walk. I come out, put my shoes on, get some treats, put on his leash, and head out the door. The treats are used to try to bribe him to behave.
Dart spends the first block jumping up and grabbing the leash in his mouth. I don’t know why he does this every time and why it only lasts a short while. As we walk, I try to avoid all people and dogs. Dart has leash anxiety. He is fine meeting a dog when he is not on a leash, but he is obviously uncomfortable when restrained. He barks and sometimes growls. Fortunately, most people in our neighborhood walking dogs avoid each other. It’s funny how everyone does this.
I have been using the treats to try to get Dart’s mind off whatever has him riled up. It’s working somewhat, but walking Dart is not a relaxing experience. He also wants to chase trucks, buses, joggers, and bicyclists. Florida has nice weather. There are lots of dog walkers, joggers, and bicyclists. For the most part, I am managing to get him through a neighborhood walk without too much trauma but walking in a campground is much more difficult. I will sometimes look for a local dog park when possible so I can get him off leash when meeting with other dogs.
Dart spends all day keeping a close eye on Regis and me to see if there is any possibility we are going to throw his disc or his ball for him. I have thrown his ball for him 500 times in one round and he shows no sign of wanting to stop. The point of throwing the ball is to give Dart an opportunity to leap and catch it. He will run and chase it but what he wants to do is catch it. Most dogs seem to enjoy sleeping during the day but Dart is not one of them. If he sleeps, he does so very lightly so that if we make any move, he is up on his feet hoping that we are going to play with him. Sometimes, it is nerve wracking. (As I type this, all of Dart’s accessible discs and balls are laying within 10 feet of me and he lying here patiently waiting for me to finish this and play with him.)
Dart also gets fed dinner in the evening and then we eat. Afterwards, we go on our evening walk. Evenings can be more difficult because the kids are out playing and we have to try very hard to avoid them. Lately, we have had some added obstacles. Halloween is coming and lots of houses have decorations up like spiders and other assorted items in the yard. Dart does not like these things. He barks furiously at them. He is convinced they are real and pose an imminent danger. In our last house, we never had a tricker treater because we lived in a rural area. We will have them this year. I’m not looking forward to handling Dart with children in costumes knocking on our door. He is wary of children any way and having them dressed up and at our front door will be more than he can handle. We are going to have to come up with a plan to keep him calm.