Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Murr is Not Impressed

Hey, McKayla...

source: ABC15

The Murr is not impressed either.

After several years of living in crap apartments with literal slumlords and loud neighbors and no outdoor space we got our own little matchbox, and moved in last month.

The new sheruff in town.

It had everything on our not-so-extensive wish list.  There was only one thing I didn't like about it...

As a kid, I was envious of anyone with a swimming pool.  But as an old lady trapped in a not-yet-30 yr old's body adult it seemed like an awful expense with a lot of maintenance to boot.  And, when you live in a major city, having a pool in your backyard means that your pool IS your backyard.  So no A-frame for us.  

Our realtor (someone we met through agility) had walked us through many an open house - some with perfectly square (albeit still small lot) yards.  "Oh, this is where the teeter could go!" "You could fit a full set of weaves here."  But the realistic part of me knew that it's better to pick the house you love with the yard you're meh about over a house that needs work... or is too expensive... or in a not great location.  Because, heck, we could just get rid of the pool.

That is, until my husband jumped for in the first time and declared that there was no way in hell that we were going to dig this pool up because it was oh-so-wonderful.  Chance of future A-frame?  Shot.

When I told my agility friends that we bought our first house, they'd ask about the future agility yard, to which I responded that no, no yard because we have a pool.  And they all understand that where we live it's yard or pool - not both.  But instead of them joining in the "woe is me for not having an agility yard first-world-problems pity party" they'd exclaim "you have a pool?!?!"  To which I again would reiterate that yes, our backyard IS a pool.  

And then they'd pause.  And it would be...

"Can I bring my dog to swim in it?"

Half joking sometimes.  Not joking others.

Because, yeah, low-impact conditioning.  Sometimes better than having an A-frame out back.  

Except that The Murr is not that dog who thinks that dock diving is the best thing ever.  It took months and boatloads of treats for him to do this by his own wanting.

So, the mission of the past month has been to get The Murr to swim.  Because if we're not using our backyard for explicit agility training, let's have one well conditioned dog... and put this money pit pool to good use.  And no, no adorable videos of him with the look of determination in his eyes, because I'm too busy in the water with him, holding up a piece of hamburger for him to swim to.  Really high value treats are the only things worth swimming to.  But he's getting the hang of it.  

Our approach has generally been this: 
1. Get on our swimsuits and put some super-high-value treats into Tupperware.
2. Bring the Murr into the water with us (can't say he loves step 2).
3. Line ourselves up on the short sides of the pool.  One of us holds up treats, and the other one releases him.
4.  As my husband says, "the look of determination in his eyes is creeping me out."  
5.  Rinse and repeat for about a 5 minute session.  By the end of the time, Murray is excited.  With some restrained recall he is just as excited as when we do start line restraints - barking, motoring, actually having a good time.

And the little bugger can move - he's getting the hang of it.  He doesn't love swimming yet, but is liking the treats more than he's disliking swimming.  He probably just doesn't love it because he truly looks like a drowned sewer rat when wet. 

But maybe that's okay that he doesn't love it, because this is what he did on move-in day.

**This post is part of Dog Agility Blog Action Day.  To read other posts about what agility addicts are doing outside of the ring, click here.**


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. It's there, it's just not truly visible as a link due to the color and placement of it.

      PS OOH! A conditioning pool!

    3. I search and searched and didn't find it... I see it now! I'll delete my comment - no sense leaving it around.

  2. I'd love to have a pool in our yard. Our dogs love swimming! It was warm water swimming that helped our Milo stay happy and healthy to nearly 16 years old.

  3. Part of me would LOVE to have a pool in the yard (for the dogs, mind you), but I just can't give up the flat yard space. So I will remain jealous of those who have pools, and my pool-owning friends will remain jealous of my yard. ;o)

    Have you tried a swim vest on Murr? My two small dogs are not super confident swimmers and I found that sticking a life vest on them increased their confidence by boatloads. They will never be the swimmers that my big dogs are, but they enjoy splashing around in the shallow water now and I feel confident in their ability to swim if needed.

    1. I started with a swim vest, but he actually disliked it... it tilted him sideways at times, but also I think he likes to be in control. He never swims more than 10' without us (since we are in the pool with him and he can catch us). Hoping that in time he will enjoy the routine - now when we pass a kiddie pool at a show he runs over and jumps in, so he figured that out at some point.

  4. We'd love to have a pool! Have you tried putting the Murr on a raft? Would he like to balance? We did that with Rocco and the rafting was as great a workout as the swimming as he kept his balance. Luckily Rocco seems to love the water! Good luck. He's so adorable!