Thursday, 9 February 2012

Lost in Translation

You know that heart in your mouth feeling when you realise you’ve lost something important and have absolutely no idea where it is or how you are going to get it back? You feel sick, start to panic and suddenly it gets really hot. Well, that was us on Waitangi Day when we lost Mila for the best part of an hour at the dog park. 

We had gone out to the park in Newlands for a run and to practice some recall training. It was a beautiful afternoon and a great excuse to get out and enjoy the fresh air. This of course involved pulling Mike away from the couch where he was watching both the cricket AND the Super Bowl – so it wasn’t a particularly popular decision from his perspective, but I digress. 

The park out in Newlands is basically a big, secluded field tucked away (generally) from houses and roads and surrounded by bush. The park is popular place for all types of dogs (and their owners) to hang out. It is an excellent place to let loose, sprint around, meet some other dogs and if you’re lucky, jump into one of the many “water features” about the place which of course, guarantees the need for a bath when you get home. 

There are also a whole heap of different paths and walking tracks around the outside of the park – and the bushes provide an excellent opportunity to explore. There are known to be rabbits hiding in them there gorse bushes! 

When we got to the park, we wandered around for a bit with the lead and muzzle on before deciding that Mila could have a bit of freedom. We played a couple of hide and seek games, some fetch and Mila attempted to race a Beagle and an overweight Chocolate Labrador.  Of course, Greyhounds have 2 settings: super fast and super slow. All of Mila’s meetings with the other dogs involved the former, sprinting up to them and standing with her ears straight up as if to say ‘C’mon! Why aren’t you racing with me!?!’ We always joke that Mila lacks the ability to “read the room” when it comes to interacting with other dogs and has no sense of tact when it comes to introducing herself. It is an endearing trait when you know that it is all in the name of good fun – and is Mila’s way of saying ‘Hi! Let’s be friends!!’ As you can imagine, it took the Beagle a few seconds to realise that the big black cheetah barrelling towards it at a million miles an hour was actually just playing around. The Lab on the other hand, was super keen to play chase but was also super slow (10 points for effort!)

Eventually Mila found the pond – and being a hot Waitangi afternoon decided to sit down and cool off – ensuring that the mud wasn’t restricted to just her legs but made it all the way up to her neck. At around this time she also developed selective hearing. Suddenly there were things more exciting in the world than wondering about with us and even our possum meat treats weren’t up to scratch anymore. 

And it was then, that she trotted off down a track and disappeared completely. 

At first, we weren’t overly concerned. Even if she didn’t immediately respond when she was called, she was pretty good at keeping us within eye sight and sprinting back to us if she got too far away. But as time passed – and 5 minutes turned into 10 and then 20 – we started to worry. We followed her most recent path, calling out all the way, to no response. The houses and roads seemed much closer than they were before and we knew that if she had seen something that she wanted to chase, she could be miles away. After 20 minutes of helplessly looking (and Mike heading back to the car to scan the surrounding area) and just as we were about to reconvene to consider our next move, out from the bushes comes a black waggy tail with a white tip and a big tired grin. Totally oblivious. After lots of pats and being securely back on the lead – we were back in the car (hooray!) and off home for a bath. That was more than enough excitement for one day! 

Aww - C'mon! I didn't get THAT dirty...did I??
As we packed up the car we discovered that along the path Mila had met a man who was out walking his two dogs – and decided to join their party for a bit. How lovely for her!!

So, Lesson #589 learned – Mila loves to hang out with other dogs and other people and is happy to spend time exploring with them – fantastic!!! However, in order to avoid knocking 10 years off my life due to stress, reading the signs (body language etc) is important. If it looks like I’ve lost her attention, I probably have and reverting back to a nice relaxed on-lead walk might just be in everyone’s best interests.


  1. Hi Rachel
    That sounds scary! We won't be at Dennis Duggan this weekend (but will be at Robyn's on Sunday) or next weekend, but expect to back to our 5pm weekend runs after that. She was really good at staying with George and Mynx when we met up - maybe having her own little pack means she won't join another one. There's a run at Mana at 3.00pm on the 25th if Otaki is too far to go.

    1. Thanks Sally! I think she really enjoyed exploring with the other dogs (which is understandable - even if it did give us heart attacks). We can't make it out to Robyn's this weekend but will definitely try to make it over to Mana on the 25th.

  2. This would have been scary! So glad Mila was just making new friends and doing some exploring with them:) Beryl did something similar at the beach once. Probably followed an interesting rabbit smell. She came back eventually but I'll never know where she went, lol! I was a bit worried though.