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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December Adventures and Winter Safety

Happy Holidays everyone from Gopher and family. Gopher does not work all the time and one part of this blog is to talk about his adventures in addition to his experiences. In addition to typical walks and chuck-it play Gopher is also having some big adventures in December.

His first big adventure was to go to the Holidazzle Parade in downtown Minneapolis. (Quick Disclaimer: Gopher and his brother Squirrel have been gradually exposed to bigger and more complex environments since they were puppies.  Don’t just walk out the door and take your pup to an event like this, it can be very scary and could have bad consequences. Please consult with an experienced trainer before seeking attending complex events with your friend.)  Gopher and Squirrel went with Mom, Dad, Aunt Tracy, and two cousins to see co-worker’s of Mom’s march in the parade. It was a lot of fun with floats and people lit up in their various costumes. Gopher knew he was there to see the parade, but obviously the crowd was there to see him and he greeted every friendly smile, pat on the head with a wag of the tail. 

Gopher and Squirrel loved the young families who were in the viewing area with them and at one point before the parade, Gopher must have believed he was at work as he laid down in the gutter next to a little boy to let him pet him, and raised his paw, because as we know the best therapy comes from Gopher’s chest. 

This same little boy also spent the entire parade with his arm around Squirrel as both of them watched in wonderment.  A lot of fun was had by all, but Gopher still feels we missed out by skipping the street vendor’s popcorn stand.

Occasionally Gopher gets to go for walks in ‘special places’, this month we went to Summit Hill to see the decorations, or as Gopher considers it shopping for a more appropriate palace.  Although the decorations were lack luster this year Gopher thoroughly enjoyed his special walk with Squirrel, Simon, Aunt Annie, Uncle Greg, Mom and Dad. None of the mansions seemed to meet his desire so he was happy to go home and cuddle on his familiar couch.

Gopher’s biggest adventure is getting to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s for the Christmas holiday. The mere mention of Grandma and Grandpa causes pricked ears, a pinwheel tail and a whimper of excitement. Their house brings so many opportunities for exploration and times to paly chuck it in their massive yard. Not to mention so many people come to their house to see him and give him pets, it is sheer puppy ecstasy.

Gopher’s visits as a therapy dog weekly and we have many experiences to discuss in upcoming entries. Since today is the Winter Solstice we wanted to pass on some advice for winter safety for you and your best friend.

As Gopher reminds me often that even though it is cold outside your pet still needs exercise. Make sure you clothe yourself and if necessary your friend appropriately for the cold temperatures.  Also consider shorter but more frequent outdoor exercise and play to keep you both safe. 

Paws, and their little pads on your friend are especially susceptible to injury this time of year in cold climates. Frost bite can occur quickly to the exposed skin; the pads can also become dry and crack in the cold and from the salt on roads and sidewalks. Frequently check paws and wipe with warm moist cloth to clear off salt. Trim fur in the paw, or have this done by a professional groomer, the fur is a great insulator, but too much can cause the accumulation of ice and snow around the pads creating frostbite. You may also use products such as Musher’s secret or booties to help protect paws.

Happy Holidays to everyone and have fun; keep you and your pup safe, and all of your training and experiences positive.

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