Sunday, June 02, 2013

Rufio the Dog Walker

Surprisingly, we've actually had a nice spring thus far. According to the BBC it's the coldest spring in fifty years, but at least this year we have sunshine and little to no wind. I don't think last spring was warmer since I distinctly remember wearing a winter coat on July 15th last year, but what do I know? With all of this wonderful weather, I've been trying to take advantage of being outside since you never know when it will go away here. So, that means a lot of extended walks for the dogs and me. On Thursday evening, it wasn't just the regular walkers out though. Since it was so mild out, Mr. K decided to join us and he and I took the entire family to the park.
That's right. Every last one of us went to the park-two humans, four dogs and one kitten.
It probably looked absolutely ridiculous. I always get comments about how many dogs I have:
"How can you control all of them?"
"Wow, so many?"
"You are crazy."
Now, I show up in the park with not only my four dogs that are apparently difficult to control and make me a nutter, but also with a kitten.
Knowing that Rufio was going to be a show cat, Mr. K and I invested in a small over the shoulder carrying bag for him. It really just looks like a "messenger bag" with an opening at the top for the cat to stick his head out if he so wants to do so. Mr. K is tall enough that I felt comfortable with him carrying the bag-if any dogs were too interested in the bag, the cat would be up high enough that he should be safe. We also have a small harness for Rufio that clips into the bag, so he can climb in and out of the bag, but can't escape. One thing that judges like to see is a friendly cat, hence, we figured bringing him to the park was a good place for socialisation.
We found a bench and parked ourselves there, letting the dogs roam free and visit other dogs and people. Roscoe had to be put back on leash at one point for a time out as he thought breaking up someone's picnic and not coming when called was a good idea, but other than that there weren't any problems. Mr. K just set Rufio's bag on the bench beside him and whenever people passed by and saw the cat, he told them they could pet him if they wanted. The more we have strangers touch him the better. Strangely enough, he did great. He only had one freak out moment when one little yappy dog went barking and bouncing about Mr. K's ankles, chasing Hermione, but he was up high and safe. He calmly chilled out in his bag and watched the world go by. On the way out of the park he caught sight of a squirrel which Hermione promptly chased up a tree. Rufio was very interested, but didn't try to get away from Mr. K.
We stayed for quite a while since the dogs were having fun, as were we. A lot of passers by stopped to admire Otis and a group of teenagers stopped to try to teach Roscoe how to play fetch. They would throw the stick, Roscoe would chase, pick up stick and then break it into little bits. Once or twice they saw progress when he'd return it half way then crunch, but the game ended when Otis got the stick first and made off with it. Roscoe also made fast friends with a little Border Collie who wouldn't leave his side. Nala made a game of taunting Roscoe and then running as fast as she could away from him. She seemed to enjoy the game and it meant both dogs were well exercised. Hermione was busy chasing anything that blew in the wind, chasing Otis and introducing herself to anyone who walked in her near vicinity. Mr. K and I enjoyed ourselves as well, chatting with the Border Collie's people and the many other people who stopped to pet Rufio or one of the dogs. It was a very relaxing evening which resulted in four tired dogs and one very sleepy kitten. As the old saying goes:
"a tired dog is a good dog."
I think that applies to kittens too. Rufio was so sleepy when we got home, he forgot to get up to kitten mischief and just slept.
Time got away from us and by the time we realised we should start heading home, Rufio was beginning to get a bit restless. Nothing too major, but he would climb out of his bag and up to Mr. K's chest, insisting that Mr. K carry him that way. I think part of it was because he wanted to look around. I definitely think it's something we should do more often. It's good to expose Rufio to new environments, but honestly, nothing seems to ruffle him.
The sun is out again today in full force so I'm thinking a trip back to the park this evening with Mr. K and everyone is in order.

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