I have a bucket list of sorts for Tango. Exposure to a variety of people and places for a dog with Tango’s reactivity and particular behavior problems is therapeutic for him. It has helped him adjust quickly to any environment. He’s a master adapter. But, having nothing to do with his behavioral issues, Tango is also an asshole. It’s part of his personality. I can say that because he’s mine. My dog is an asshole. In my mind we’re going to have these spectacular adventures: discovering beautiful beaches, hiking trails with glorious mountain ranges in the background, enjoying brunch on the patio of a cafe in a picturesque small country town. But (back to reality) we’re talking about a dog that barks in the most ferocious of manners at a floating leaf. A doggo that body slams the front door every time someone knocks. A puppers that sees furniture, fences, and people not as things to go around but mere hurdles. A fur baby that deliberately pees on his fur brothers without shame or remorse. Our morning snuggles are quite often interrupted by the sound of a chirping bird thus causing Tango to turn my ribcage into a spring board. Make no mistake, Tango is trained. Extensively trained. He has reached master level in obedience training. But being an asshole and evil genius, Tango knows when he’s “on”. He plays the part so well. As soon as we’re out of a group class, a training session, or (mainly) out of his trainer’s sight, the charade is over. It’s part of his charm really. He’s the bad guy every girl knows she can fix. We’ve seen him behave, we know he can do it, and we’re the ones that can make him want to be good. But alas, it will always end in heartache if we continue down that path of denial. The only resolution is acceptance. Hi, my name is Jan, and my dog is an asshole. This will not deter me from taking Tango on our adventures. Even when he is taking over the controls, plummeting us firmly into a nose dive, he is still my co-pilot. Together we are a perfect mess. And I love it.
So, how did tubing end up on that bucket list? Well (dramatic pause)…it looked fun on Pinterest. Damn you Pinterest and your awesome looking ideas! It seemed simple enough. He is, after all, a water dog at heart. What could possibly go wrong? We drive down to San Marcos and rent 4 tubes: two for me and the bestie, one for the beer and one for Tango. The Guadeloupe river is full of families, college kids, adults unwinding on this sunny summer weekend, and my dog. Getting Tango in the tube is easy enough. Keeping him there, not so much. Even though my tube is just next to his, this is not good enough. He is determined to leave his tube and join me in mine (If you guessed separation anxiety you are today’s winner). This is neither a feasible situation nor comfortable as his claws dig into my thighs to maintain his balance. I try to transfer him back to his own tube but he instead jumps overboard and (as I have him on a leash and all our tubes are connected by rope) he swims us to the edge of the river into a mess of low hanging tree branches. Determined to keep this adventure going I decide to abandon my own tube and float down the river hanging on to his in order to convince him to stay inside of it. Plus when he launched himself into the water his back paws punctured my tube leaving it as deflated as my dream that this is going to end well. At first it’s actually working. He’s finally relaxing. We’re all floating down the river. We make it another 50 yards or so before he punctures his own tube (I forgot to bring his doggie booties and we are seeing the consequences of that oversight). As we stop to assess the beer situation (because the beer tube is now the only tube Tango can use) I drop my iphone in the river. Why did I bring my iphone with us, you ask? Into a river no less? In my defense it had a LifeProof case and I’ve been documenting Tango’s life in pictures since he was a puppy. It seemed perfectly reasonable up until I carelessly let it slip from my grip into the dark river bed. We are standing in calf deep river grass in a strong current. It is gone. I am done.
Lining the banks of the river are several homes. All have various types of no trespassing signs posted reminding river visitors their yards are private property. Nonetheless we begin a slow walk of defeat against the current towards a large corner lot where it becomes apparent the homeowner is waiting for us. She has been watching our misadventures and is here to help. Our hero lady allows us into her yard, her home, and then her car with a big wet dog. She drives us back to the tube rental where we pretend 2 out of the 4 tubes aren’t busted and hightail it out of there. We don’t really start laughing until later that night. But we do laugh. We still laugh. We could’ve left Tango home and had a long lazy day floating down the Guadeloupe, drinking beer, getting too much sun. But where’s the fun in that? That’s not a story we will tell and retell while erupting with laughter. While our outing did not go anywhere near expected, it was more memorable than imagined and it always puts a smile on my face.
Know their boundaries, but don’t be afraid to take your pup out of their and your comfort zones. Keep them safe but, but don’t be afraid to let it be a disaster.
TL;dr Tried to take Tango tubing. He popped 2 of 4 tubes. Kept jumping out and swimming us into trees. Dropped iphone in river, gone forever. Heroes exist. Was able to post a pic to Facebook before all was lost.