Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dog Day Afternoons

Dianne here --  We are down to our last three days at Markham Park.  We haven't really taken advantage of all there is to do here, even though we've been here a month now.  This park is incredible, and much-used by locals and tourists alike.   I guess it helps when the weather affords year-round activity.   Here is just a sampling of the different areas/activities in this very large, much-used Broward County park:

There is a radio-controlled airplane field; there is a radio-controlled boat lake; there is a lake just for water skiing.  There is an observatory with Saturday night star demonstrations.  There is an off-road cycling trail.  There is another lake just for personal watercraft.  There is a target range which features 50/100 yard/meter outdoor lighted target ranges for pistol and rifle, as well as lighted skeet and trap ranges and a sporting clays course.  There is a swimming complex, boat rental, tennis and racquetball courts.  All that is in addition to the normal picnic shelters, wide grassy fields for activities and festivals, playgrounds, campground, etc.   There are several folks camping here for the entire winter, from as far away as Quebec.   Others are obviously locals just out for a weekend camping trip with their kids.   We had wanted to use our new inflatable kayak (a retirement gift to Roger), but for some reason they are not allowed on the lakes here in the park.  We were told we could use it in the canal behind our campsite, but since it's full of alligators we decided to pass on that idea, at least for our very first kayaking experience in our brand-new inflatable kayak!!   I read in Nick Russell's blog of a good spot to kayak in the Florida Keys.  We will only have three full days in the Keys, but we might try to do it there if time permits.

But for us, the main attraction here has been the awesome dog park, "Barkham at Markham."   It is so much fun to watch Jasper and Chaplin run and play.  Chaplin, especially, loves to run at full speed, just for the sake of running. 

   I've tried, time and again, to get a good photo of each dog running at full speed.   I've about given up; they're just too fast!  

We've gotten to know some of the local "dogs" who are regulars at the park (and their owners), including a HUGE American Bulldog owned by a Miami Dolphin.  We've seen dogs of every breed and description.   Jasper seems to have a special affinity to some Jack Russell terriers, while Chaplin likes boxers (and little girls).

One thing we've noticed about Chaplin is that he is a "chick magnet" 

-- doesn't matter whether it is a six-year-old girl or a middle-aged woman, they all seem to be drawn to Chaplin. 

  And if anyone happens to bring a blanket to the dog park and thinks they'll relax and read while their dog plays, they will soon find Chaplin plopping down on their blanket right beside them!   Luckily, both times this has happened the people on the blanket didn't mind.   Chaplin gets so excited at the dog park that he jumps around like Tigger from Winnie the Poo.   

Jasper loves to play fetch with tennis balls and frisbees. 

  He sometimes acts like he is "above it all" but usually will finally remember he IS a dog and join in the chase.  

Our boys have brand new collars, purchased on the internet from "Mrs. Bones."   Don't they look handsome?   Chaplin's has celtic hounds

 and Jasper's has a flame pattern. 

  I order special collars for them, because sighthounds do best with what's called a Martingale collar.   It's hard to find Martingale collars in regular pet outlets.  Sighthounds' heads are small in relation to their necks, so it would be too easy for them to simply back out of a regular collar.  These collars are designed to tighten when pulled; not enough to choke them, but enough to keep them from wiggling free.

 One thing we have done at each campground for both dogs and Charlie the cat is affix a round paper tag to their collar with our camp site number on it,  just in case.  I believe the round tag shows in the photo of Jasper's new collar.  All three of our animals are micro-chipped and have permanent tags with our cell phone numbers and even the number of our vet in Indiana, who also knows how to reach us.   When we do leave them behind at the motorhome while we're out for a short time, we carry an index card in the car with us with instructions that we have pets left behind in our motorhome, so they won't be forgotten in an emergency.   These are all things I learned to do from reading RV message boards and blogs.   

I know some people (even some of our friends and relatives) think we're nuts for taking all of our animals with us, but we wouldn't have it any other way.  They bring us so much joy, and help to keep us young (at least in our own minds!).   They definitely give us exercise and make us smile.

With all this dog talk, I don't want to leave out Charlie the cat.  Charlie has found a new game in the motorhome.

  The dog leashes hang on a hook just inside the door and he has fun batting and attacking the end of the long dog leash.   We've hung a cat toy there, specifically designed for such play, but Charlie prefers the dog leash.

 He also has great fun chasing his felt catnip mouse, when he's not busy stalking birds out the window.  He's been spending more time outside with us on his leash when we're sitting in the sun with the dogs.  Charlie just sits out there with us, very contentedly.   We always keep half an eye on him, though, and never leave him outside without us.  He's just too clever to trust completely.  He is, after all, a cat!

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