Patti Soldavini

Posts Tagged ‘four paws playground’

Bridge to Nowhere

In animals, dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners on 01/26/2013 at 10:31 am

"You guys know this is a bridge to NOWHERE, right?"

“You guys know this is a bridge to NOWHERE, right?”

Olive the observer, always investigating before participating.

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Dog Tag

In animals, dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners on 01/26/2013 at 10:25 am

"Hey guys, I'm 'IT' AGAIN?"

“Hey guys, I’m ‘IT’ AGAIN?”

Olive playing tag with her friends at Four Paws Playground.

Home Sweet Home

In animals, dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 01/26/2013 at 10:12 am

"May I stop POSING now?"

“May I stop POSING now?”

What a month. Between my Mom being ill, the bone-cold weather we’ve been having, my real job consuming 12 hours of my day and being on-call for two weeks for jury duty (in Trenton of all places), this month just disappeared. The only bright spot was (as it always is), Olive. While I was out of town visiting my Mom, Olive got to stay at Four Paws Playground, the Hotel W for dogs. Now that she’s stayed there a few times for a week or more, I find the idea of her well-being doesn’t intrude upon my thoughts constantly when I’m away. I trust that Olive is well taken care of there. But then I feel guilty that I’m not thinking of her often enough. So, I look forward to when I return home and pick her up. My plane lands, I bolt home like a Superhero, run out the door and start the drive to Four Paws. It is the best drive ever. I’m going to bring my little nut home. She of course, is oblivious that her vacation is about to come to a close. She’s always a bit non-chalant in the car on the way back home. I can’t figure out if this is because she’s shocked that I came back or shocked that she’s leaving all her canine friends and is about to miss the hotly anticipated scavenger hunt that was planned for that evening. Once she’s home, she invariably heads for her water bowl, takes a drink then starts racing through the house like a spooked antelope. She’s back. One of the things I especially love about Olive is that her tail wags at 180 mph all the time. I view this as a barometer of her overall happiness. (And mine.) During this month, we did get to the local park every few days. I did this for Olive, not for me. Standing on top of a mountain being the only object to buffet 25 mph winds where it’s 15 degrees, was not my idea of fun. However, to Olive it was great fun. Especially since she was wearing her new winter coat. Although she’s not too crazy about the jockstrap-like straps that criss-cross her behind when you put her legs through them. For the first few minutes, she walked like she had a load in her diaper. Then she kept swiveling her head ahead to see just what was back there. Finally, she was able to ignore it as she ran around the park chasing her friends. I chuckled to myself when I saw her from behind and noticed one of the straps sort of riding up very close to where it shouldn’t be. Olive trots over and stands next to me quietly. That’s my cue to take her home. Home sweet home.

Olive Goes to Camp

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/29/2012 at 11:26 am

“Yeah, these are my peeps.”

Where do I begin? I am still recovering from my “lost week.” The week I had to spend away from my lovable pooch. The only reason I wasn’t looking forward to my business trip to San Francisco, aside from the six hour flight that feels like 12 when you are jammed into Japanese-sized seats that require a can opener to get out of, was that it would be the first time I was ever separated from Olive for more than 2 days. I had to drop her off late on a Sunday afternoon because my flight was scheduled for what I have historically referred to as “Farm Time.” That means prior to 6am. And if you live in New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the country and a state that is a major transportation thoroughfare, you know what traffic is like. Especially on a Monday morning. Rush hour starts at about 5am. So, if you’re flying out of Newark Liberty International Airport and you live about 45 minutes from the airport, between traffic and security check-in, you need to leave your house three hours prior to your flight. As I started to pull out of the parking lot at Four Paws Playground, I distinctly heard Olive barking her head off behind the fence. I stopped for a minute, very sure that it was her as there was just this single, solitary voice barking plaintively, clearly saying in dog speak, “DON’T LEAVE, DON’T LEAVE, DON’T LEAVE.” Ugh. And so begins my separation anxiety. For the next seven days I call the dog camp inquiring as to how Olive is doing. And they tell me the only thing they can tell me. “She’s eating, sleeping and playing. She’s doing very well.” I don’t know what I expected them to tell me. “Oh, she’s in dance class right now. Next, she goes to a cooking class, and then, she likes to relax outside with a Martini and the other weims around a fire pit.” If only Olive could tell me herself, I’d feel more reassured. As someone who is both imaginative, empathetic and somewhat OCD, I have to work hard not to put myself in Olive’s position. I place myself in her little horse-like stall at night, on her toddler bed and look out, surveying the room. And I think to myself, “It’s so dark in here. And noisy. And where is Patti?” That’s about as far as I get and think to myself. “Are you crazy? She’s fine. Get out of the stall.” However, no matter how hard I tried, Olive was never far from my thoughts. I spent much of the trip anticipating how happy I’d be to see her when I picked her up. Some friends asked how Olive behaved when I picked her up, as in “Did she go crazy with happiness?” Olive was very happy to see me, but she didn’t go mental. I like to think she’s a confident dog, and I’ve never encouraged intense greetings and partings. However, when we got home and I opened the door, she shot past me and ran through the whole house like a reindeer at dawn breaking. You could actually hear her body proclaiming with joy “I’M HOME! I’M HOME! I’M HOME!” I’m sure she had a good time at Camp, but as we all know, there’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed after a week of sleeping somewhere else.

To Board or Not To Board?

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/04/2012 at 10:16 am

“But will I have my OWN bed?”

Last weekend, Olive and I took a ride out to Four Paws Playground to tour the facility and meet the owners. One of the “Dog Moms” at the local dog park recommended Four Paws as a great place to board your dog. Since I’ve had Olive, I have never left her for more than a day or two and always in the hands of her trainer or friend. I performed some cursory research on local “kennels” and was largely unimpressed. Most seem like nothing more than “dog warehouses,” and little attention seems to be given to dog behavior. I was pleasantly surprised with Four Paws. It’s run by a husband and wife team who live on premises and who clearly understand the needs and behaviors of dogs and their breeds. The wife trains the staff who, while young caretakers, seemed to go about their business with a maturity unusual for their age.  Dogs that are boarded sleep in small horse-like stalls with beds, not crates. They are given free run outdoors in fenced-in areas according to their size. And most impressively, their day is structured so that they are inside for an hour, outside for an hour, etc. throughout the day. A great way to allow the dog to rest, and minimize the opportunity for anything from heatstroke to fights. While the owner says they run it like a daycare center, it actually seems like it’s run more thoughtfully than your average daycare center. In order to bring Olive on the tour, I had to present proof of vaccinations and a negative Giardia test. If I ever want to board Olive there I have to fill out a lengthy application and then prior to her boarding, take her there for a day so they can observe Olive’s behavior and get to know her. Brilliant. The dogs are treated as individuals not just as a species. It’s hot as hell as Olive and I walk into the front door. We are greeted by the wife and both Olive and I hear what sounds like many dogs barking behind a door. They obviously smell a new guest. The tour begins as we walk through the door and into a sea of dogs barking. Barking so loudly that the caretakers wear the sort of sound mufflers that the jet jockeys on airport tarmacs wear when guiding planes into and away from gates. There must be 50 crates full of dogs barking. Most seem to be large breeds. These are the daycare dogs who are inside during their “hour in.” It is a bit intimidating for me and more so probably for Olive, who is now both viewed by the crated dogs as fresh meat and fresh meat off leash. Olive tries to make herself small, by slinking low as we wind our way through this maze of canines. I ask if they have experience with Weimaraners and am told “yes,” as the owner points to a large crate occupied by both a grey and blue Weimaraner. Unbelievably they are not barking, just observing the intruders with laser-like intensity. We emerge on the other side where we see more dogs running around the fenced in areas and splashing around in the wading pools. Olive seems to feel much more comfortable out here and approaches the fence to greet the dogs outside. The owner and I chat a little more and then it’s time for Olive and I to make our way back through “Dog Hall,” and out the front door. I am very impressed with how the owners operate their business. They seem to have created something very unique and special. Olive’s had enough stimulation for the day though. As she usually does, she signals that she’s ready to leave by starting to bark insistently. Very subtle this dog. About as subtle as a fart.

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