Sunday, June 22, 2008

Redbud Island, and Meet My Dogs

On of my favorite places in Austin is Redbud Island.

It's a small island (peninsula?) in Westlake, that is an off-leash dog park. It's very woodsy, very natural, with a crushed rock path around it. There are little off-shoots and dog-made trails that go from the path to the water's edge, and crisscross the areas between the circular path.

I have two dogs, a dalmation called Lena and a black mutt called Talah. Lena is very ladylike, very regal, and very friendly. She loves more than anything to be pet, and will sit for hours if you scratch under her neck or on her belly between her two front paws. She's not crazy, like most dalmations are known to be. She's actually quite calm and doesn't like too much craziness. She's also not really interested in other dogs. She doesn't dislike them, but she doesn't play much either. She is more dalmation-like in that she doesn't really care for swimming. She wades in the water, but she doesn't ever go fetch a ball or swim out. Lena is getting a little older, but she still likes to run around occasionally and she loooooves to explore and sniff things.

I got Lena at Town Lake Animal Shelter! I was surprised to find a dalmation there, especially such a good, well-trained, calm, friendly one. When I brought her home, she already knew not to sit in the front seat, to lightly scratch the door when she needed to go out, to not get on the furniture unless she was invited. She was at the shelter for three months - THREE MONTHS! - before I got her. I don't know how such a well-trained, obviously loved animal ended up at the shelter, and for so long, but I'm glad she came to me.

Talah came from the same shelter, but she was a puppy when I got her. She was probably too young to have been separated from her family but she was the only one brought in, found in the woods. She had worms and was sickly when I got her, but she was so adorable. She's more of a troublesome dog. To me she's sweet and loving, high-energy and happy to see me. But she's afraid of most people until she gets to know them and barks at everyone, and every other dog, that passes, so it's hard to take her with me places, especially if they'll be crowded. Strangely, the smaller the person or dog, the more she's afraid of them as well, and the more she barks, so she looks mean to small dogs and children. It's hard to explain to them, so usually it's best to avoid them. She also hates the regular dog park, because she's afraid of the other dogs (except Lena).

But both of my puppies love Redbud Island. I think they love that they can explore, and go off into the woods and water and come back to me. And they like that there are other animals and people, but not an overwhelming number of them, so they can avoid and approach them on their own terms. I like it too. It's very peaceful, both the setting and the fact that I don't have to worry about Talah.

In the mornings, around 7 or 8, the light is just coming over the surrounding hills and filtering through the trees, and the water is glistening, and it's very nice. It's quiet and green, which are two nice things about the parks in Austin. It's such a green city, physically, in a much greater way than any other cities I've lived in.

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