Scavenging

img_3231Rain snuffles around for food at the park on a recent morning.

Over the last couple of weeks the days have been getting shorter and the sky has been getting wetter—this has led to Rain not getting quite as much exercise as she did over the summer. While I’ve been feeling less inclined to play due to the lower light and increased rain, Rain has been just as energetic as always.

If that wasn’t enough, this week I’ve had a problem getting Rain’s attention to practice during our morning walk in the park. There have been a couple of distractions. First, I think the wet ground has unveiled aromas that perhaps Rain couldn’t detect before. We usually use the park playground to do exercises like balancing, sending her down the slide, practicing “table,” etc. This week, I’ve barely been able to get her attention, as Rain has been sniffing every piece of bark in the sunken area that contains the play structure.

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Next to the playground, there are also some trees—nut trees! In the many years I’ve been visiting the park on a daily basis, I never realized the trees bore nuts until now.

And why do I now know they’re nut trees? Because Rain wants to lick up the bits of nuts that now litter the cement, grass, and picnic table underneath. This means I’m competing for her attention in the morning even more.

Rain’s mom Skye was a scavenger, and they didn’t even need to leave home in order for Rain to learn the trade. The hawthorn tree out front was a frequent scavenging site in the fall when the red berries would fall into the yard. They’d snuffle the ground for several minutes at a time, picking up whatever gravity or the squirrels ahd dropped. Sometimes my mother needed to physically drag them away, and eventually she stopped giving them access to the front yard in fall. At times, they’d have mini bouts of diarrhea and it seemed like it may have come from the hawthorn berries.

We’ve been encouraging Rain to develop her smelling ability by hiding a Kong full of carrots in the house each morning, but her improved sniffing abilities are no doubt causing this extreme distraction. Rain lost her off-leash privileges over the summer due to her food orientation, and now it’s threatening to keep us from accomplishing my goals on our morning walk.

This has made me fairly grouchy taking her out in the mornings lately. I’ve been having daydreams of owning a larger parcel of land where Rain can run amok to her heart’s content and wear herself out by the end of the day, and where I can putter around so she’s not away from her human ten-plus hours a day.

I fear the suburban life is not the best for Rain—and while I do the best I can to get her needs met, I fear the situation is not ideal for either of us.

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