Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Cinder's First Swim

Today was another high point in puppy life because today was Cinder's first day to try swimming.  It was an impromptu event - the kind upon which you capitalize once you realize the direction things are headed.  It was a grand finale to our day at the barn, which was less than thrilling.

Our norm is to take at least one dog to the barn if not all of them. Today we took the gleesome threesome so they could all run off some steam - literally and figuratively since it was a steamy 83 degrees after a rainy couple days. Luckily, our little creek was running wildly again, so the dogs had the creek close to go grab a drink and cool off.  After our relatively routine walk, it was Gilley's time to have some singular fun playing in the pond-chasing his soft Frisbee and swimming to bring it back to me.  I had Brian put Buzz in the Jeep with the windows down because Buzz doesn't swim and he was tired so that suited him fine. Cinder was with Gilley and me, off to the pond to play.  

I'd hoped that taking Cinder with me, she'd see Gilley swimming and try to follow him without even thinking.  When we got to the pond, Gilley knew why we were there, but I convinced him to wade a little bit, enticing Cinder into the water too.  That plan worked great. Cinder followed Gilley right into the shallow wading ledge and the edge of the pond.  I let them wade a few minutes and then I decided to see what happened if Gilley's gaming began.  As I expected, Gilley went after his Frisbee and Cinder dove in and began swimming without a single thought-until she had gone about 10 feet from the wading ledge and realized she couldn't touch ground.  She got herself turned around and Gilley got beside her as he returned with his Frisbee, so she was chasing him back to shore.  This happened two more times and of course I couldn't get video or pictures at the time because I had too many things in my hands and I was at the edge of the pond (not wanting to risk dropping my phone into it). I did get some of her in the pond but not swimming-they're at the end of this post. Each time Cinder followed Gilley and part way out, realized she was getting pretty far from shore and turned to come back, but the third time, she started to struggle.  Just as I was about to dive in after her, Gilley came back on his return and he knew she was in trouble. He let go of his Frisbee (we call it "flier") and got close enough to nudge her and grab her to put her right. She kept swimming with Gilley alongside all the way to shore - until Gilley realized he had to go get the Frisbee.  After that, Cinder remained content to follow Gilley only to the edge of the drop-off and stop.  She would bounce around in the water, anxiously watching and awaiting Gilley's returns to meet him and climb back onto the bank to bring me the Frisbee.  Overall, Cinder did great and she proved that she's pretty smart by realizing she'd gone too far and trying to get herself back to safety each time-until that last time when she must've been just a little too tired and got into trouble.  Luckily, Gilley saw and helped her so I didn't need to race into the pond and save her.  Some lessons are better when the other dogs teach them and the humans stay out of it. After that, she proved her smarts by knowing about where the drop-off was and staying where she could safely wade and play without pushing her limits and really getting herself into serious trouble.  

It was really awesome for her first time swimming in deep water. To see her realize she'd gone too far and figure out how to get herself turned around and start swimming back - seeing the power strokes she was using with those legs of hers was impressive!  She was quite something. Her turn-arounds were pretty good too. She figured them out without even seeing Gilley do it so it was all her own brain power for that maneuvering.   Even Gilley's first swim wasn't that good - he really nearly drowned before he figured out how to paddle well enough not to go below the water surface. He was so skinny that he had NO bouyancy to help keep his head out of the water-he HAD to learn to paddle or he was going under!  Now he's an expert to the extent of being able to herd while swimming, but you'd never have believed it watching his first THREE swimming days.  I'm very proud of Cinder's first swimming efforts; and Gilley's leaving his Frisbee to go save Cinder when she got in a little trouble. 

Overall, a great day for the dogs at the barn. I'm so anxious to see Cinder try the swimming again when she isn't quite so tired to start out. I see a LOT of swimming in Cinder's future-at least, I hope so. 

Meanwhile, thanks for checking in on another day of small adventures as we continue raising Cinder.

Check out the pictures I managed to get below.  


Cinder watching Gilley swim for Frisbee

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