All in all, the outing was a success, and I returned home with a seemingly tired dawg and a satisfied sense that I'd nudged Freddie a little further along on his journey to canine social maturity. The tripe in the Kong was opening our mailbox to find the handmade safety vest I'd ordered from Jen at Stylish Canine — to make Freddie more visible in the forest, where his colours tend to blend in with the surroundings.
Bit o' shameless blog promotion!
Nofo Summer 2
Anyway, yes, all of this was GOOD — as was reconnecting with our good pals Ros and George, who looked after us in La Paz, Mexico, two winters ago, and are in town for a brief visit. The evening's dinner engagement, as well as a pre-dinner walk in Stanley Park, was with them.
Big Sky 1
Now, a competent photo blogger would have made sure to get some photos of Ros and George (think Rosalind Russell and George Clooney) and, perhaps, of our al fresco dinner at Adesso Bistro ... but the BAD (and, ultimately, STUPID) dog trainer in me conspired to keep photography to a minimum and dog-related anxiety on high.
For starters, Freddie had never been to Stanley Park before, and the idea that this off-leash forest ranger would understand that walking these woodsy trails requires a leash, or that Lost Lagoon and Beaver Lake are not open for swimming was, well, a tad ambitious (read: stupid). I'd managed to muster up enough brain cells to put him in his canicross (ie. pulling) harness, but he was still way out of sync with the rest of his party — morning exercise be damned.
But wait: it gets better (stupider). On arrival at the bistro, we were given a choice of patio tables. I wasn't not thinking about Freddie when I suggested the corner table next to the hedge — smack-dab in the middle of patron and server traffic wouldn't have been good — but the main force at work was my own preference for cozy, peripheral nooks.
Big Sky 2
Under the circumstances, Freddie did OK. Just not service-dog OK. Halfway through my misto di mare appetizer, he sprang up and woofed at a skateboard (only to find himself unceremoniously stuffed back under the table). He managed to chill through the gallina affumicata and even ignore a number of passing dogs, but, as we sat digesting and awaiting coffee and dessert, four hours of frustrated impulses took their toll on young Freddie, and a cross-hedge bark 'n' lunge fest broke out.
I squeezed myself and Freddie between the hedge and the fence, took my leave of our charming dinner companions, and beelined outta there in search of a Car2Go. Apparently our host and server, Gavin, was very understanding, for which I am grateful.
I've said it before (though maybe not on this blog): Freddie and I would flunk out of a guide-dog training program. Neither of us has the temperament for that kind of work. The temperament Freddie does have creates some obvious challenges for the public access part of his diabetic alert gig ... but his prey drive, his powerful attraction to novelty, and even his stubbornness also make him very well suited to sniffing out particular smells and telling me about them. He's still young; we're both still learning.
However, lest you be left with a lousy impression of Freddie's and my own overall competence as canine and human beings, here's photo evidence (above) of a recent good deed. Two of the cyclists above — nine-year-old girls — had become separated from their group in Pacific Spirit Park. With the assistance of modern technology, I made contact with the mom, and Freddie and I escorted the girls along trails now very familiar to us to a happy reunion on the other side of the park.
FINIS (for now)