Friday, January 23, 2009

The curious case of Cooper the Labrador...

Even though he may not be living his life in reverse like Brad Pitt, Cooper does live his life in a certain ordered way.  

I am of course referring to his walks throughout the course of a day, which number from four to five times daily. They can be broken down in the following ways:


Like clockwork we're usually awoken around 6am to 6.30am by a big sloppy wet tongue or a gigantic puppy paw in the face.  Taking it in turns each morning, like zombies we get up and take pup out when it's still dark.
Pup chewing his stick
Since he's learned to cock his leg to pee, Cooper has been even keener to go out in the mornings to mark his territory. So these days by the time we get to the end of the street he's pretty much run out of piddle and is just going through the motions cocking his leg at every opportunity.

Unfortunately as it's dark (and he's still only a puppy) he still gets spooked easily, so any weird shapes (like discarded Christmas trees) or sounds will startle him or make him become an immovable object.
Stick fun for pup
Luckily that early in the morning you don't meet so many other dogs out and about, so at least you are spared the whole rigmarole of Cooper lying down 'every' time he sees another dog approaching.

Usually these walks are quite painless these days, as he poops quite quickly and trots along at a faster speed than other walks.  Plus, there's also the extra incentive of 'breakfast' (or 'dinner' which is the word he recognises for meal times) when he gets home.


These are the walks we both least look forward to. Around 8am to 8.30am Cooper will just come and stare at you or put his paws up on the bench where you're sitting and you'll know he wants to go out (and no amount of treats or toys will satisfy him). Note the word 'wants', as he doesn't always 'need' to go out.
Cooper at 9 months staring
So whereas the first walk is around half an hour, the second walk usually lasts a considerably longer time.  This is mostly due to the fact that the moment you get outside he usually plops himself down and finds a stick to chew (we've learned to let him get on with it rather than dragging him away as it makes our life and generally the walk that much easier).  
No stick too big for Cooper
We've also come to realise that no stick is too big for Cooper, in fact the bigger the better it seems.

This is typically followed by lots and lots of sniffing.  Inevitably other dog owners are taking their pets out before they head off to work and so tend to be in a rush and not in the mood for playtime with Cooper.  Of course that doesn't stop Cooper lying down at every occasion (apparently it's a submissive thing), which makes the walk seem endless.
Pup enjoying his stick
Another factor making this second walk a bit more painful can be the weather. By this time in the morning on a good day it can already be really hot out and it doesn't take long for Cooper to get hot and bothered, which slows him down.
In heaven chewing sticks
So inevitably Cooper tends to save up his poop until the very last minute before we're heading back in, after about 45 minutes to an hour.


This walk is to Runyon Canyon and of late has replaced his second walk of the day and we're up there for the three and a half mile hike by 8.30am to 9am in the morning.  Otherwise because of the cooler weather and less intense heat we get there after lunch from 2pm to 3pm (to ensure we get back to the car before the light fades).
Runyon Canyon ridge pup
Soon we'll have to change our schedule again as the nights will start getting lighter and days hotter, which means very early walks or late afternoon start times.
Runyon Canyon dog hike
At Runyon Cooper can run off leash and socialise with other dogs so it's the perfect environment for him.  These walks always exhaust him and if he doesn't go to Runyon at least every other day he has too much energy and his naughty streak starts to shine through.
Curled up by the fire after a Runyon Canyon walk
Another TYPE 3 walk would also include a trip to the beach where he can also run free, chase balls and frisbees and splash about in the waves.


Depending on whether he's been to Runyon that day, by around 1.30pm he starts wanting to go out again. 

We're finding that on the warmer days after he's had a pee, he mostly wants to find some shade, lay down and munch on a stick, so in the coming months as the temperature gets warmer, we'll see how this lunchtime walk evolves.


Again if he's not been for a long walk to tire him out, which can take two to three hours out of my day including driving there and back, he starts getting restless around 4pm. Sometimes you can just play with his toys, throw some tennis balls or play tug rope with him and that amuses him for five minutes, but ultimately he wants to go out.
Pup munching on his stick
That's the disadvantage of living on the third floor of a condo complex and not having a backyard where you can leave him go outside to do his business, especially now that we've ('touch wood') house trained him so that he's not using his training mats indoors anymore.  When he needs to go, he needs to go.


Cooper gets his 'dinner' between 5.30pm and 6pm and so depending on what our social calendar is like, he gets a final walk around the block last thing at night so he sleeps comfortably through until morning and doesn't wake us up even earlier than he already does.  We had hoped that a late night jaunt would make him sleep in later, but sadly no, it makes no difference at all.
Cooper with stick in mouth
And there you have it, Cooper's exercise schedule for the day. He's a very lucky boy getting to go out so much. 

Obviously being home in the week I get to do the lion's share of the walks in the daytime, but at the weekends and on holidays the walks are always easier when there are two of us to distract him from all the scents and sights around him.
Beach puppy playing with his frisbee
Don't get me wrong either, we do love taking him out for walks around our West Hollywood neighbourhood and really enjoy our trips to Santa Monica, playing at the beach and hikes up Runyon Canyon, but occasionally we'd like a bit of a lie in (are you listening Cooper?).

This week it's another kind of challenge as we've had some rain which limits where you can take him.  We've been at Runyon when there have been thunderstorms which really scared Cooper and you always have to be careful of mud-slides there in wet weather, so after a few days without a nice long walk, our pup becomes a bit restless.

Maybe we should just invest in a treadmill...


AVCr8teur said...

Cooper is sure active and has quite a personality. My dog starts staring at me around 4pm when he knows it's about that time for his daily walk. Not sure how he can tell time.

Jason in Hollywood said...

Cooper certainly has character!

I have a feeling that once the sun starts shining and it gets hotter in the daytime he walk pattern will evolve again.

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