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FAMILY   -   PET CARE
On this Side of Town, we call our Dog Park The Creek
May, 2008 - Issue #43
I am an early riser. I guess I've always liked to get up before the crack of dawn, brew a pot of coffee, let the dogs out and read the morning news all in the peace and quiet of a home and neighborhood still fast asleep.

I used to move a lot faster in the morning. There were kids to wake up for school and breakfast to make for the brood. Up until last summer, I even pulled on some leotard-type clothes and would head over to the Pilates studio before starting my day. Lately, however, my exercise routine consists mainly of walking the dogs.

The City of Santa Clarita recently opened an interim dog park - a fenced-off portion of Central Park where folks can bring the pooches over for a little off-leash interaction. A pre-school, if you will, for the four-legged. I can't imagine, though, how my pack of labs and one basset hound would respond to a bunch of strangers sniffing their butts.

My neighbors and I are lucky. We have our own version of a dog park right in our own backyard. It's called "the field" and "the creek." My dogs always start out on a leash but by the time we reach the creek bed, they know one thing and one thing only - there are rabbits in those bushes. Not that they've ever caught one, but they have a grand time diving into shrubs looking for the ever-elusive bunny. And those field bunnies are quite smart. They know if they stay extra still, the labs run right by them in a crazed frenzy.

The rabbits, however, always forget about the slow-moving, stop and smell the roses, 10-year-old basset hound that brings up the rear. He may be losing his hearing and his eye-sight, but his keen sense of smell is staying with him. When he gets on a scent, the whole neighborhood can hear his hound-dog wail. This stops the labs dead in their tracks as they circle around to see what the old man has found.
"I'm enjoying the opportunity to SPEND SOME TIME OUTDOORS - no iPods, no morning news, and no cell phones - catching up with my neighbors and watching my furry companions."

I know most of my neighbors by the dogs they accompany. Wyatt, a Border collie mix, takes his soft-spoken gentleman owner on a walk at least twice a day. Harley, an Australian Shepherd, goes jogging with her owner, and Cassie, a border collie/lab mix just recently accepted my dogs as running companions. We have a show-winning German Shepherd in the neighborhood and there are these two little terriers with attitude that can scare my big old labs with a mighty show of force (they bark...).

Dog walking is such a social activity. We dog walkers always stop and chat about the "kids," give updates on rattlesnake or coyote sightings and always, I mean always, talk about the weather. We just love the weather. Dog walkers are out in the rainy season and in the heat of the summer because we know that a long walk is good for the hearts and souls of both participants.

Of course, walking my dogs is not going to melt off the 20 pounds I gained last year and I know pretty soon I'll have to start driving over to Pilates again or join my husband in our home gym. But in the meantime, I'm enjoying the opportunity to spend some time outdoors - no iPods, no morning news, and no cell phones - catching up with my neighbors and watching my furry companions interact with the rest of their species.
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