Well, I had another weekend full of dog stories. I really never intended for this blog to be devoted to our pooch, but he does serve as my source of entertainment.
So this weekend, we were invited to go ‘cliff jumping’ about 45 miles West of Reno in the Yuba River. My friend said that it would be a good place to take Tucker. I obliged.
When we parked up there in the mountains, we began our 1 mile hike to the swimming hole. At the entrance to the trail, there was a sign saying ‘Warning: People have died recently in this river. The water is so cold that hypothermia or shock can happen immediately.’
We all looked at each other, and then said ‘Let’s go swimming!’ This morning when I got into the office, I found a few articles (article 1, article 2) talking about people that died the week before at the exact spot that we ended up at.
Well, the trail turned out to be really rocky, and it was more of a rock climbing decent than a hike. I really felt sorry for the girls with us that had chosen to wear flip-flops for the hike. A few minutes into our hike, a few hippy looking guys yelled up at us saying that there was poison oak all over around the trail. Since none of us were exactly sure what poison oak looks like, we then became very wary to touch any green plant on the hike.
We arrived at the swimming hole, called Emerald Pool. It’s called that because the water is a bright green. It was really a beautiful place. Well, to get to the beach area, we had to cross over some rapids that were about two feet deep. [The Man Now Known as The Ex] and Tucker went first in the group, without any problems. We then formed a human chain to make sure we all got across safely.
Now wading in the water was almost painful because it was so cold. Hence, I decided I wouldn’t be jumping off of any rocks into the pool, because that would just not be a pleasant experience. Several people in our group did a jump from a rock that was about 30 feet high, and they did the jump several times each.
Now Tucker was VERY upset when they started jumping off of the rocks. I didn’t know he had a lifeguard instinct, but he actually lept into the water to and swam in circles barking at them.
We hung out on the beach for a while, enjoying the sun, the sounds of the river, and the mountain breeze. The views were truly breath taking.
When it came time to leave, [The Man Now Known as The Ex] decided that he and Tucker should be the last two to cross the rapids. We formed another human chain, and all made it safely. [The Man Now Known as The Ex] began to wade out with Tucker, and passed the leash to the next person in the human chain. That’s when Tucker got swept up by the current.
I looked just in time to see my friend holding on to Tucker’s leash, and Tucker frantically trying to swim against the current. Then my friend let go.
I freaked out. My dog was getting pulled down the river, heading to a series of rapids that would be difficult to survive. I scrambled over a few huge boulders and ran down the bank of the river, screaming his name. He could see me, and I kept encouraging him to swim towards me. Luckily, he was able to make it to shore right before the next set of rapids. I grabbed him by the scruff to help him out of the water, and hugged the dog I almost lost forever.
That’s when I looked up to see a completely soaked [The Man Now Known as The Ex]. I didn’t even know that he had jumped in the river after Tucker, and had gone through the rapids himself in an effort to save our pooch. I was in shock. I had flashbacks to news reports from the week before, where a local man died trying to save his dog in a river.
I was pretty much in shock, having realized that I almost lost both [The Man Now Known as The Ex] and Tucker in a split second. God was looking out for all of us that day, because only He knows what would have happened if they would have been dragged through the next set of rapids.
The hike back to the truck was very challenging, as it was all uphill rock climbing. There were several times where I had to push Tucker’s hind quarters up the rock while [The Man Now Known as The Ex] grabbed his scruff to pull him up. We both agreed that we’d never take Tucker there again.
Saturday night, we went to see Pat Benatar in concert. This was my fourth Pat concert, and I was really geeked. Imagine my reaction when I found out that the tickets a friend had given us were in the fourth row, dead center!
She put on an excellent show, despite being extremely fashionably challenged that night. She was wearing this strange hat, a jean jacket, and cargo pants. It was a different combination that didn’t really work… Right after Pat played my favorite song, “Hit me with your best shot”, her husband, Neil Giraldo, started throwing guitar pics out into the audience. I actually got one! I went really crazy when I picked it up!!!
So on Sunday morning, Tucker and I ventured to the ESPN Big Air Dog Classic, an event where dogs jump off of a dock to fetch an item, and they are judged based on how far they jump. I figured that Tucker loved to swim, and loved to fetch his ball in the water, so he’d be a natural at this sport.
Now imagine this scene: 135 dogs and their owners all lined up to take a shot at the dock. 90% labradors (majority were black labs), 5% Golden Retrievers, and 5% random dogs, including a few Yorkies and Cocker Spaniels. It was really mass chaos. Barking, growling, jumping, peeing, pooping, you name it. Now to set the scene even better, I’m carrying around Tucker’s tennis balls, and we’re at the place where he always fetches his balls in the water, but we have to wait around 3 hours before he can partake, and meanwhile, he has to watch other dogs playing in the water. This didn’t go over well. At all. He barked, pulled, and basically forgot all of the obedience we had ever taught him. He was so excited, and I had hopes that he would harness that enegy for his jumps.
Well, Tucker got Little Air. Each dog gets one practice jump, and three competition jumps. We were first up in the second heat, meaning there were a ton of people watching us because they weren’t yet bored. The announcer says ‘Next up is Tucker and Lynnette Cook from Reno. Tucker was the name of the 2002 Big Air champion in the Great Outdoor Games. Let’s see how this Tucker does’.
I walk Tucker up to the edge of the dock for his practice jump, show it to him, and then walk him back about 20 feet. I throw his ball into the water, and he runs full speed up to the edge, and comes to a screeching halt. He then looks back at me like ‘you’re crazy if you think I’m going off of this!’ I encouraged him to jump, and he eventually stuck his butt up in the air and flopped about 1 foot away from the dock, and landed with a big ‘ker-plunk’. He then forgot that the ball was out there, and swam back to shore. Meanwhile, an ESPN employee in a kayak had to go fetch his ball for us.
Competition Jump #1: (The announcer doesn’t even recognize us this time, and keeps babbling about how to train your dog in the sport) I walk him up to the edge, show it to him again, whispering ‘see, it’s not that scary’, and then I take him back about 10 feet. I throw the ball, he runs full speed, and screeches to another stop at the end of the dock. He looked back at me, and I said ‘go on!’, and he jumped. 6 feet. (Keep in mind that the pro dogs jump about 24 feet!) At least this time, he fetched his own ball.
Competition Jump #2: The announcer says ‘Let’s see if Tucker can beat his first jump of 6 feet.” We do the same routine, and this time he jumps 7 feet.
Competition Jump #3: Same situation, Tucker jumps 8 feet.
So we left. I think we were dead last in our heat. Beat by Rambo, a little cattle dog, and his owner, this huge guy named Jim. I whispered to Tucker ‘Even Rambo beat you!!!’
By the time he finished his jumps, I was tired, and very irritated with my dog, who was barking, grabbing for his tennis balls, and overall making a spectacle of himself. In his defense, it really was a bit of sensory overload for him there, but oh well.
My brother, Chuck, said that he saw our practice ‘jump’ on the 11:00 news last night. That was the one foot jump. I hope no one recognized me!!!
If you want to see some pictures of a Big Air Dog competition, DockDogs.com has all the details. Here is the article that was in the paper this morning about the event.
Hey, we walked away with an ESPN leash and our entry fee benefited the Nevada Humane Society, the place where I adopted my Little Air Dog.
Another weekend gone to the dogs.