Today was to be a day of many firsts for Paco.
I anticipated that he may get a bit nervous with all of the going-ons, so I brought some cheese (a favorite treat) and hoped that I'd be able to keep him calm until we got to the highlight of the day: a secluded beach away from roads, with only one exit, which made me feel safe about letting him off-leash. What's more, he'd have a good friend, Bondo, who he'd played with before at puppy socials, to romp with.
I had my fingers crossed.
But, there were hurdles to overcome. First, we'd have to catch a ferry to Water Island, an island that is less than one square mile, populated by people who drove mostly golf carts to get around, and slowly at that, as the roads are very narrow and windy and you never had any idea if someone would be coming around the next corner in the opposite direction. Even if Paco got away and onto a road, the chances of him getting hurt were s-l-i-m.
But, the ferry. Paco, being a Basenji, hates water. He's never been on a boat. What would it be like? Would he panic? Spook?
I carried him onto the ferry, instructed him to "sit," and gave him cheese when he did so. More cheese for good measure…and...
The boat engine started, we left the dock, and we had a successful, uneventful ride!
Now...arrival on Water Island. We would be meeting the owner of Bondo and getting a ride to the beach. We'd be riding in...yup...a golf cart. Another first for Paco.
He gets in; he and Bondo squirm around together, wanting to play already, but we get them seated...and...
Successful golf cart ride! Paco even stuck his head out the side to enjoy the breeze.
And now, the beach. Only a couple of close calls with the one beach exit, both which were averted by using my new recall technique: blow a whistle, Paco comes, he gets cheese. Bondo got in on it, too. I've been practicing this for days with Paco just for today, and it worked out wonderfully. Paco and Bondo ran laps up and down the beach for hours and hours, taking breaks once in a while, until they collapsed in holes they dug in the shade and were finally all burnt out.
I couldn't have been happier for Paco.
But the adventure wasn't over yet.
We wanted to bring them to a beach where Bondo's owner's friends were. There weren't many people there, and we knew the dogs were all worn out and perfectly friendly. With all the good recall they were doing, what could go wrong?
...famous last words.
They did fine for a while, getting called back twice when they meandered a little too far for comfort. On the third time, though, only Bondo came back. Paco looked back, and decided it would be more fun to take a turn around a building on the beach, so I went to look for him.
After a couple of minutes, and managing to follow the sound of his jingling tags, I found him
...in the middle of shaking an iguana to death.
I couldn't get to him, as my shoes weren't on and he was through some brush (Paco had already had an encounter with a cactus for the day - I wasn't about to make the same mistake). I called, I whistled, I held out my hand as if I had cheese, but he was deaf to anything but the sound of that poor iguana smacking the sides of his face and ears as he shook and shook and shook...
I ran back to grab some treats, shoes, and his leash. By the time I came back, the iguana was lying dead in the bush, and Paco was playing with the still-twitching tail.
I held out a treat, he got close, I leashed him, and leashed he stayed for the rest of that beach trip, heh. Paco was very, very proud though, and was definitely showing off his blood-spattered white legs and chest.
He's fresh out of the shower, now. I wonder if he'd have attacked the iguana if he had known it was sure to lead to a wash-down?