Really, life can be tough on a 6-month-old puppy...
The family was out walking a hike and bike trail together...Charissa and Katharine had fallen behind, so since we were coming up near a bench I asked Alfie to "find the seat." Tim and I were resting and chatting when all of a sudden, Alfie jumps up snorting from where I thought he was settled in. I looked and oh no...there was a prickly pear right behind our seat, and it gets worse...one pad of the cactus was most definitely slobbered on!!
This is not, I repeat NOT, a chew toy!!
Closer inspection showed 3 or 4 little green spines stuck in Alf's nose and upper lip. Fortunately they were relatively soft, and came out quite easily. Afterward he seemed none the worse for wear. Here he is in front of the bench (post-op, of course!)...you can barely notice the prickly pear but it's on the left hiding sneakily behind some weeds.
Let's get back to our walk, Mom, really, I'm fine!
I felt badly for not seeing the hazard ahead of time. It was also a reminder of the importance of teaching puppies NOT to grab things in their mouths while out working! Usually my focus is getting Alfie to leave food crumbs and trash alone in stores and restaurants as an important part of guide dog etiquette. But etiquette aside, there are many things dogs could pick up which might harm them as well. Clearly, this lesson is a work in progress!
Apart from the cactus incident, we all had a great time. At the beginning I fell a bit behind the others, watching some birds, and Alfie became rather fractious -- always wanting to pull ahead. Of course every time he did that I had to "heel" him and we just fell farther back. When we finally did catch up, however, he transformed into a perfect angel, with the best loose leash walking you could ask for, even when passing other dogs. He'd much rather lead than follow!
Some of my favorite people, one of my favorite puppies...