Friday, February 14, 2014

Snow Day Bliss

This was a fun week to be in Athens, GA. The whole city basically shut down in lieu of the traffic issues across the Southeast earlier this year. We've had snow days off from work most of the week, even though the temperature hasn't dipped below 27 degrees during the day. It's just silly, considering one of us is from Wisconsin where the temperatures have been below zero most of 2014. But hey, we're not complaining!

Yesterday was beautiful and sunny, families were out sledding down the streets, and we took the dogs on a long walk in their matching Ruffwear Climate Changer fleece jackets. These super warm dog coats aren't the best for snow since they aren't waterproof, but we don't have anything else and our short-coated pups start to shiver once the temps reach the 30s. 

We wandered around town and ended up at a local park. Seeing at it wasn't in use, the completely fenced in snowy basketball court became our own private dog park. We probably broke some laws closing the gate and letting madness ensue, but it was pure fun and no harm came of it!

There's nothing quite like watching dogs get to run free. I wholeheartedly believe that leashed walks and runs are very satisfying too, but it's really something to let their wild sides take over. For most of us, off leash freedom means heading to a dog park, but with Spartacus' issues, we are reluctant. His true reactivity is limited to being on leash, but he still has a dominant streak and is what our local doggy daycare calls "a doggy nerd", meaning he doesn't quite read social cues correctly. It's also because the boxer in him loves to throw punches and wrestle. His playing style scares off many dogs and can lead to fights when Sparty just isn't receptive to their grievances. We've had some great times at less busy hours, and Athens has some wonderful dog parks with trails where he really excels. He gets the most overwhelmed in the type of dog park where all the owners sit down and all the dogs are supposed to play in a central area. When we head to public dog parks, we are extra vigilant and often have to correct Sparty for mounting. Dog mounting in parks is a controversial subject. We've found a 3 strikes you're out program normally calms him down. If he's not responsive to corrections, we either leave or leash him up and walk the perimeter while Delilah plays on.

Incredibly, one park in Athens actually offers private dog parks that you can rent by the hour, for just one dollar per dog. These completely fenced in lots range from 2-3 acres of beautiful grassy and wooded sections. Sparty and Delilah have private parties there at least every weekend, but with the roads covered in ice and snow, this basketball court makeshift dog park was the only place accessible by foot. 

It didn't take long for their coats to get soaked, not that they noticed.

We really lucked out with Delilah as she adapted instantly to Sparty's roughhousing, and he truly is her favorite dog to play with now. She gets along with everyone, but the peak of her happiness is reached going nuts with her big brother. As soon as we close the gate to any park we visit, these two immediately take off tackling each other. We wouldn't condone their disorderly play with stranger dogs, but since these two trust each other completely, there's no harm in letting them play to their heart's content.

About half an hour of insanity can really knock these two out for the rest of the day. We knew they were ready to head home when Delilah started looking cold, and Sparty's efforts were focused on lapping up melting ice. 

The rest of the day was spent like this.

How do you feel about dog parks?
Are your dogs fans of the snow?


  1. We have a large fenced in yard so we don't need to go to dog parks, which is a good thing because we don't have any very close to us (though they're working on one).
    Our dogs LOVE the snow. That's a good thing too since we just got a foot of it last night!
    It is so much fun watching them run and play in it, isn't it?
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

    1. Wow a foot of snow, I think Delilah would sink right in!

  2. Whoops, I meant to say also that it sounds like you live in a very dog friendly area. I think that park that you can rent time in is an excellent idea. I would want to do it that way for sure.

  3. Great pictures! One huge bonus of bad or cold weather is that you get busy places all to yourself! We do not go to typical dog parks anymore. Kaya and Norman are good with other dogs but it almost never ends well for us due to owners who either don't care or don't know how to read dog body language or too much chaos. Luckily we live minutes from many different hiking trails so we do that almost daily. We do go to parks where dogs are allowed off leash but they are so big and spread out(no fences) I don't really consider them your typical dog park. In other words it's easy to walk along if you don't want your dog to interact with whoever is around.

    Norman has often found himself on the opposite end of the humping equation...the humpee? There's something about him that really attracts them and he has grown fairly defensive because of it. I have to be super careful who he plays with now:(

    Kaya and Norman would make terrible city dogs. They are off leash daily and go batshit crazy if we take a day off! Well...Kaya goes crazy and Norman gets depressed.

    1. I'm sorry to hear Norman gets picked on. Sounds like how nice humans are treated too. The weird thing with Spartacus is he doesn't technically hump dogs, he just climbs on them, sans nasty back and forth motion. Often it's the front of the dog too. It really weirds other dogs out, sometimes they just don't move. I was horrified when I saw he developed this behavior. I suspect it happened because he loves to box and throw punches, and when he front mounts my dad's dog she starts jumping around and boxing with him so he thinks that's how you initiate that type of play. As much as I'd like to think his intentions are pure, he's probably just a bully.

      Are you in the bay area? I've heard it's ridiculously dog-friendly and beautiful. We also live near lots of beautiful trails and hike often, though only one is technically off leash. I used to let Sparty off leash on hikes. Then Delilah came along, and she must have some hunting dog in her because she takes off from the trail and Spartacus can't resist following her. They once disappeared from me for 20 minutes in a huge 800 acre nature center trail - worst 20 minutes of my life!

    2. Hmm...I don't think Spartacus' moves sound like humping. Norman just can't handle when they latch on and go to town on him...understandably. One of his go to moves to get dogs to play is to just sit on them. It's not dominant...just awkward and funny. Oddly he seems to prefer when dogs really tackle him and are very rough with him in play. But he needs a few minutes to get to know the dog first. If they're too nutso from the start he might jump to conclusions but once they're in his good book, his tolerance is limitless.

      We are in the bay area! From what I hear we are lucky to have tons of off leash dog places. There are 2 parks, 2 beaches and tons of hiking trails that we mix up. It's always beautiful...we are very lucky! I've been working with them since puppies to stick with me on the trails so luckily we've never had an experience like yours. That has happened to me with other dogs though and it's scary! Kaya & Norman sort of travel in a 100-200 foot radius around me but never lose me:)

    3. Wow, the Bay Area sounds perfect. We live close by the Blue Ridge mountains and love to hike there regularly, but since Delilah's in the mix, leashes stay on. That's great that your dogs stay close by. I'm gonna post later this week with some photos showing the weird moves Sparty employs when he's playing. Norman sitting on dogs sounds too cute. What a champ.