Every year, my small Colorado town holds a super fun dog event called Barker Days at the local pool and ball field. This is a clever take-off of the town’s signature community event called Parker Days. Yes, because the town is called Parker.
The first year we attended, we had only one dog – Hunter, the Chocolate Labrador Observer. He lives by a firm policy of never retrieving anything. He’s considering breaking from societal retriever expectations and starting a new Labrador group called Club Observers.
Anyway, when we escorted Hunter to Barker Days that first year, he took one look at the pool and ran pellmell, flinging himself into the deep end, which, for the record, is only five feet deep.
Immediately, he sank down. Barely emerging for breath and with eyes as wide as Frisbees, he sank again. We had to rescue him. We reminded him that he was bred to brave ice-cold deeper-than-5-feet ocean waters to help fisherman in Labrador. He was unimpressed.
He did recover enough from his near-drowning to run around the perimeter of the pool and pee on various bushes and chaise lounge chairs.
Soon he discovered the ball field next door. He spent much of his time there running amok, racing through a big silver tube several times, visiting dog vendor booths, and in true Labrador Observer fashion, barely noticing the 132 Frisbees and tennis balls available for his amusement. Rule #1 at Club Observers: never pay attention to objects humans will expect you to chase and retrieve.
A year later we had acquired a second dog, Lacey the Beagle, and she accompanied Hunter to Barker Days. Hunter remembered his scary pool experience and gave it a wide berth, instead running around the perimeter and peeing on various bushes and chaise lounge chairs.
Eventually, his doggy daddy was able to coax him into the kiddie pool that was six inches deep and he learned water could be his friend, at least in small amounts.
Meanwhile back at the Beagle ranch, Lacey proved to be completely uninterested in the pools and very interested in the flora, fauna, and food, glorious food. Food? Um, yes. Any dropped and hidden morsel left by some swimmer child, no matter how long ago, is fair game in the Beagle nose world.
Lacey’s nose works much like a metal detector. She can find anything that is even the slightest bit edible, anywhere, anytime. I’m pretty sure she is no danger of starving should she find herself in any type of wilderness situation including urban, suburban, rural, mountain, or desert.
This year’s Barker Days had more dog-related vendors than ever before. Both dogs began the event on the pool side, but Hunter quickly made his way to the ball field side full of non-retrievable objects, and vendors, glorious vendors.
Every vendor has treats available to seduce dogs and, by association, owners to visit so they can peddle their fine doggy wares. Hunter doesn’t care about fine doggy wares. He cares about dog treats. He became known as the mooch. Whenever we couldn’t find Hunter, we simply took a turn through the vendor area, and there he was. Mooching.
But not retrieving.
Lacey also discovered the numerous treats available from the vendors, but if she couldn’t finagle a treat directly, she simply employed her Beagle nose detector and found stuff to eat anyway.
Finally, her doggy daddy picked her up and carried her to the kiddie pool to show here the wonders of water. She seemed to like it fine, even wagging at him, but then she carefully stepped her way out of the water and sniffed her way back to the vendors, first thoroughly exploring the flora and fauna for aged food bits.
Ah, Barker Days.
We’ll be back.