A Trip to Wilco and a Happy Dog

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Winter weather once again meant the cancellation of our agility class. It was unclear when the freezing rain would start, but I hadn’t heard anything about cancelling class when it was time to collect Rain and head out to the arena. Once we arrived at Wilco though, I looked at my email and discovered class had indeed been cancelled.

Rain would be so disappointed! She had clearly been excited about going to class the previous two weeks, hopping right in the car without hesitation. It sounded as if there was some freezing rain happening at the arena already, but things were just fine where we were. I didn’t want to let Rain down, so we had a longer Wilco visit before heading home for the evening.

Fortunately the farm store didn’t disappoint. First I walked her all around the parking lot so she could sniff where other dogs and people had been. She ended up peeking into an open loading dock door in the back, but I pulled her back. We walked to the storage building so she could smell all the hays stored inside the pull-through where trucks stop and load up on hay, soil amendments, and the like. She climbed onto the bottom rack of a shopping cart and I wheeled her around for a minute or two.

Soon, a woman who had left the store was heading right for us! Rain barked until the woman pet her, and I gave her some cookies to give to Rain. The woman made Rain sit for the cookies and declared how good a dog she was. (They’re all good dogs, lady.)

Rain was ready to go inside, and used all her muscle to try and pull me in that direction as fast as possible. Once inside, we walked through every single aisle in the store, even visiting the garden patio out back a couple of times. I noticed the store is preparing for chicks—there were chicks available during our first visit last year and I’m very careful letting Rain have access to them. Rain slurped up a few stray pieces of dog kibble in the dog food aisle, sniffed the horse shampoos, climbed on top of a stack of potting soil sacks, and was totally immersed in this stimulating environment. In certain aisles she saw a men whose jib she didn’t like the cut of and gave them warning barks. I took her in the dog toy aisle to see if there were any toys she took an immediate liking to.

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Rain spent much of our time at Wilco sniffing or looking at the environment, with her head low and forward. Once we had been there a while, she’d occasionally look back at me with a great big happy doggy face. Rain tends to have a fairly stoic face most of the time, so it’s really great to see her mouth open, ears perked, and her tongue out.

Eventually we said hello to one of the cashiers, who gave Rain a few cookies. I was pointing out that while we didn’t buy anything today, we do sometimes buy stuff, but were just on our way to agility when class got cancelled. The young woman told us about a regular customer, who brings his Australian cattle dog in each Saturday morning just so the dog can have an outing. The dog approaches each separate register and knows just when to bark to get his treat from each cashier. The cashiers seem to enjoy interacting with the dogs their customers bring in, which is good for Rain and a relief for me.

Wilco told me they were dog friendly when I first visited roughly a year ago. We’ve never had a negative experience there, and it’s invaluable to have a warm, welcoming place to go in the winter when the park is dark and possibly underwater. When it provides all those things and makes Rain so happy, how can we help but continue our visits…and buy Rain a toy or treat now and again?

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