The snow we had a couple of weeks ago is slowly starting to melt. There are still huge mountains of it where it was plowed off of streets and parking lots but the yard is down to about a foot of coverage. So, as a way of easing back into our old routine, yesterday I took him to the dog park for an hour.
Ray was ecstatic to be back. Some of his Saturday friends were there: Ellie Mae, the chubby bloodhound; Chief, the 145 pound Great Dane; Sheba, the old-lady dog that Ray adores (Ray has a thing for old females - they won't give him the time of day though); and one of his good friends from the hard-core group that we used to see everyday, Nikki, an indeterminate mix of some really high-energy dogs. Nikki was thrilled to see him and tried her usual ploy of running underneath him and grabbing his face from below. Ray gave her a quick lick but he was there to run. He did a quick meet-and-greet with everybody then took off after a pack of four or five dogs that I didn't recognize.
Like our yard, the ground was still covered with about a foot of snow but it was uneven and craggy from where the dog's feet had sunk in. Ray was looking particularly spastic as he ran around, yelling, following his group. He couldn't see the terrain and his footing was uncertain. I worried that he was going to pull a muscle or wrench something but he was having a great time so I stood by and chatted with the parents while our kids ran around.
Chief was being particularly boisterous, bounding around from person to person, then tearing around. Then back to the people. "He's really fast!" I said to his owner. "Yeah," he replied, "Problem is he can't stop. I was out shoveling snow and stopped to talk to a group of neighbors. There were five of us and Chief came running up, tried to stop and couldn't. He slid into us sideways. We all went down like bowling pins." Chief is a BIG dog. (My mind boggled as I thought of Giant George, the worlds biggest dog, a 245 pound Great Dane doing something similar. I'm sure he could easily take out the full compliment of bowling-pin-people. I found myself thinking that it's a really good thing he lives in a warm climate. If you're curious, check him out on the following links.)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1237727/Is-Giant-George-worlds-tallest-dog-The-7ft-long-blue-great-dane-claim-title.html and http://www.facebook.com/posted.php?id=183261491109
Ray came home with me reluctantly. I had to bribe him with treats to get him to leave. When we got home, I sat down on the couch to read the paper. Ray came over to join me. Usually he just curls into a little ball beside me. This time he climbed up, planted his butt on my lap, braced his front feet against the arm of the couch (kind of like he did to Gregg in the video), and leaned his full weight against my chest. Then he turned his head, laid it over my shoulder and let out a deep sigh. Contentment? Sadness? Exhaustion? Who knows what goes through the mind of a blind hound. I sat there for a long time stroking my dog, wondering how in the world I ever got along without him.