Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The dog days of summer

Summer is here, ladies and gentlemen!  And it arrived with a BANG! Three straight days of sunshine and heat and beer!! (probably a little too much of the latter...)

Ahhh, May long weekend. Or May 2-4 as we call it back home. (I haven't figured out if that is in honour of Queen Vicki's actual birthday, or the fact that many a 2-4 of beer are consumed at many a campground on this hallowed weekend.) The official kick off to summer is always an exciting time. Gone is the long, dark Canadian winter, to be replaced by the all-too-short dog days of summer. It's the time of year where people get the gardens ready, take out their bikes, open up the cottage, and fire up the bbq, while silently praying to the summer gods that they will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy these activities long past the ushering in of the fall equinox. 

To be melodramatic about it, it is a weekend of hope and promise.

(Is that a little too much???)

At any rate, we have had a pretty lazy May long weekend. We're not gardeners (even though we say to each other - Every. Single. Year. - "Hey, let's get a landscaper in and figure out what to do with our front flower bed that we built a couple of years ago and that is still empty,") so we're not outside digging in dirt. Our bikes have been out for weeks now, so we didn't have to yank them up from the basement. We'd already fired up the bbq a few weeks ago, although we did give the rotisserie a try (with great success, thank you very much Moroccan chicken). And we don't have a cottage. So all we really had to do this weekend was set up our gazebo, where we have been firmly planted ever since usually with a beer in hand.

In fact, the only time we've left said gazebo is to go get some grub for the bbq. Or to go replenish our dwindling beer stocks. Or to go drink beer on the neighbour's back deck. Or to shower.

Or, of course, to take the Beast out for his morning and afternoon exercise.

And what a busy weekend of fun in the sun our little guy has had.

First there was a trip to a tract of NCC land - scrub brush, really - with his new friend Rufus, where the two explored together for a couple of hours. Rufus ran through muddy swamps while the Beast rolled around in rotting plant material. Both dogs came out of that brush stinky, exhausted, and happy.

Then there was the bike ride to the Farmer's market, which requires that we cut through his favourite place on earth - the Arboretum - where we even let him run off leash at top speed beside the bikes.

And of course, there were endless hours of fetch, with balls, sticks and squeak toys, wherever it is that we ended up.

It's no wonder he's at my feet right now, crashed out in the shade, dreaming of something, no doubt, because his hind leg is twitching.

But by far, the bestest, most fabulous, most wonderful part of this long weekend has been all of the swimming that the Beast has done.

And why not!!  With afternoon temperatures soaring up to 32C, a girl and her dog have to find something to do that won't induce heat stroke, right? What better way to beat the heat than to take a dip in the river!

Which is exactly why we found ourselves heading over to the Lemieux Island dog park on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Fetching first sticks, and then cheap tennis balls, from the Ottawa River, all while honing the Beast's swimming skills.

And for a land dog, I gotta say that his swimming has vastly improved. See for yourself:
Okay, so he didn't get the stick that time. But when I replaced the stick with a bright yellow tennis ball, he got much, much better at the retrieving part. He only let two balls get swept out of his reach by the current, one of which was ultimately tracked and retrieved by a water dog. So our net loss for the weekend was only 1 tennis ball. Not bad, when you consider that over five days, there were probably at least 60 fetch reps! Even less bad when you consider that last summer, there was no retrieving at all. Only goofy loping along through the water while the labs swam laps around him.

Oh, and he gets an honourable mention for saving John Ibbitson's dog's ball from floating off down the river. In fact, John (I call him that now, even though I didn't introduce myself) told me that the Beast was his hero for retrieving this rather expensive chuck it ball, which his own dog was lazily ignoring. Atta boy, Beastie!!! Coming to the rescue of your Mom's favourite political columnist!!

So we clocked a good many hours at the water dog park this May long weekend. Alternating between playing fetch on land or in the water, and between hanging out in the blazing sun or finding a cool spot on a blanket in the shade. We played with other dogs, we chatted with other humans. I even sipped on an ice cold Margarita cooler while I threw the ball back and forth to the Beast and one of his best dog pals, Willy. 

All the while, I kept thinking to myself, "Summer can't get much better than this..."

In fact, what the heck did I do before I had a dog!!!  

Here's to more hot days down by the water.

Bringing back a stick

He always heads for that bush when he comes out

I got it!

Now let's head back to shore!

What a beautiful summer day!

Here I come!

Throw it one more time, Mom!!!