Monday, January 31, 2011

Cross Country Skiing

About a year ago, Ed and I took up cross country skiing. We are still very new at it, having gone less than five times.  Last winter, we didn't even dream of bringing Niko with us. We wouldn't have available hands to hold his leash and he was a flight risk.  However, over the summer, Niko gained our trust and proved to be alright off leash in remote areas. Sure, he isn't great at name recall, but he always comes back....eventually. 

A coworker recommended a national forest nearby that has great trails for cross country skiing. We were impressed by the scenery and there were many trails to choose from. Another plus was there was no charge to use the trails and dogs were allowed. We swooshed around in our skiis a bit and Niko was indifferent to the extra baggage attached to our feet. He was more interested in the snow apparently. We held on to his leash until we got into the trail a little bit, away from the parking lot and road.  We let go of his leash but decided to keep it attached to Niko's harness. We were testing new waters here and wanted an easy way to get a hold of him easily. 

The experience turned out better than I expected. Niko stayed close and if he went exploring, he came back very quickly. The best feeling was when I lagged behind, he would run to the back of the  "pack" to check on me. Once he saw I was moving along, he'd run back to the front to Ed. I may be looking into it more than I should, but I think he has an inner instinct to protect and guard us. He does this on hikes with bigger groups of people as well; running back and forth and accounting for everyone.
We came across a pair of nice elderly ladies who were also skiing. They were delighted to see Niko. Niko was friendly to them, but barked at a solo skier who went on by. It was a fun time for all of us, but for Niko especially. He hopped in and out of the deep snow; buried his head in it; and covered 3 times the distance we humans did from all the running.  When it was time to leave, we were able to corral him by way of a tennis ball. Niko was pooped out on the car ride home:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bath Time

Niko's bath time means torture for everyone involved. Torture for Niko, us, and anyone who can hear his piercing barks within a 1 mile radius.  We feel terrible for him and can't understand why he hates getting a bath so much. As soon as that water touches him, he yelps, scratches and does everything he can to get out. It's a two person job. Over time, we learned a few things to make the ordeal a little better. For example, we used to fill the tub up 3 inches deep so we can scoop water. Turns out Niko fares better without having to stand in any water. He also barks less if I hold the shower head close to him like a massager as opposed to spraying him with water.
He acts adorably post bath time though. His sad and hurt looks really tug at the heart strings. When he is released from the bathroom, Niko runs around the living room and hits up his favorite spots. He rubs against the rug and couch as if to ward off the evilness that is water. He licks his paws, legs and any other body part he can reach dry. He is very spastic and shakes off many times.  After all this, our hearing is worsen, Ed's arms are scratched up, and we dread the day we have to give him his next bath....