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Chet Baker, Baby Magnet

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

You gotta love this little cheesebox in her itty bitty Steelers dress and even tinier Krocs. Lookit those LEGS! The slightly bigger one is a piece of work, too. I like taking pictures of little kids as much as I like taking pictures of dogs, flowers and birds. They're in kind of short supply around our house.

There's something about the friendly, wide-open face of a Boston terrier that attracts adults and kids alike. They just look like nice doggies, perpetually puppylike and cute. And they are. Chet Baker loves little kids and babies; he strains at the leash to go greet them. At 2 1/2, he's ceased jumping up on people except when he's home and greeting them in the driveway or at the door. So there's little danger that he'll bowl anyone over, and parents appreciate that.
Chautauqua is a bastion of cute, cute babies, little pink bald babies, lots of strawberry blonde ones, and even one that was almost the spitting image of Phoebe, with wise ice-blue eyes and tufts of red hair. Her name was Maya, and I ate her up with my eyes, remembering. Of course I had no camera. Rats.
But I was armed and ready for this little Steelers fan. Oh, my. What an angel, set on earth. There are lots of folks from Pittsburgh up here.
This sweet little boy was enamored of Chet, but already had been taught enough about dogs to offer Chet the back of his chubby little hand to sniff before petting him. Babies know so much more than we give them credit for.
photo by Bill of the Birds

We're in what I dubbed the Dog Zone of the big open-air amphitheater at Chautauqua. It's over on the right side, and during a big concert there will be five to ten different dogs there, listening with their owners just outside the gates. I prefer hanging out in the Dog Zone to sitting on the hard wooden pews, because if we feel like having some ice cream, we can saunter off without offending anyone. Also, I am now a dog person.

It was really fun to have Chet up in New York with us. People enjoy meeting him and asking about him, and we enjoy introducing him to them, and to other dogs. The most common comment: What a nice little dog. I 'd like to have a dog like that. (Sure to make any dog owner glow inside.)photo by Bill of the Birds

This was Baker's third season at Chautauqua. He was just a puppy of 9 months when he first came here. He knows the apartment like the back of his paw, and it was hilarious to see him scoot down the stairs and charge around inside, remembering the place and its smells when we first arrived. He was ecstatic when we arrived and put his bed in the living room, because for the entire ride up (7 hours) he was apprehensive that we might just drop him off in the kennel on our way here. That dog thinks too much. He was to sleep all the way home, knowing the destination.Note taut leash. Most of the time, Chetty pulls so hard on that thing you could twang it like a banjo string. It's an UpCountry Lead. Man, those are nice leads and collars. Hard to go back to the cheap stuff when you've used them! His pattern is the lavender dragonfly, called Meadow. Phoebe thinks it's a bit fey, but I say he's man enough to wear lavender.

There are so darn many fancy dogs up here that I was sure we'd spotted my first duck-tolling retriever. But he turned out to be a golden retriever x border collie. Jeff Gordon, my personal dog guru, had him guessed right. Overall, Chet's been a perfect gentleman on this trip, at least when meeting strange dogs. I'm discouraged about his leash skills, though; he pulls like a husky no matter how many times I correct him with a sharp word and yank of the leash. Like, hundreds of times. Chet, no pull! (yank). Chet, no pull! (yank) CHET! NO PULL! (yank). Stop. Take him by the muzzle. Talk sternly to him. Resume walking. Chet! No pull! That's the sound track for our walks. I'm about desperate enough to get him a Halti collar, though I wonder whether it will work on his super-short nose. He is as strong as a husky, too. My arms are sore! Any tips on leash-straining dogs would be more than welcome. To save you time: We also try the ploy of stopping dead when he's straining hardest; of shortening up the leash the more he pulls, and even of turning around and going the opposite direction for awhile, then going the direction he wants to go when he stops pulling. Arggggh. I will not resort to a choke chain, or something that hurts him when he pulls. We probably wouldn't have this problem had I been willing to do that.

Footnote: I did make some progress in our last walk, when I pulled the leash straight up, momentarily lifting his front feet off the ground, every time he tightened up on it. That got his attention, and he was better after that. But, to allude back to Katdoc's training advice, which is never to try to make your dog other than what it was bred to be, I feel like I'm fighting a basic breed trait: boundless enthusiasm for life. It's part of what I love about Chet. And I think it's what makes him pull at the leash, so eager for the next experience. But man, I wish he'd shape up.

Now I'm going to sit back and collect advice from dog people. Let's see what y'all can do.
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