Monday, April 12, 2010

That's Why They're Called Prickly Pears

Poor Alfie.  Sometimes he has to learn things the hard way.  You might even call it a "sharp" learning curve.  

Alfie lying in the grass, a worried look on his face
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 pad of the cactus was most definitely slobbered on!! 

closeup of a prickly pear cactus, with its sharp, hairlike spines poking out all over
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!) can barely notice the prickly pear but it's on the left hiding sneakily behind some weeds.

Alfie panting eagerly in the foreground; in the background you can see a bench and the prickly pear behind it
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!
My family sits on a low stone wall in front of a bank of blue and yellow wildflowers; Alfie is lying down at Charissa's feet
Some of my favorite people, one of my favorite puppies...


Mimi and CC Cabana said...

Poor Alfie! I can just imagine him with little green pokers sticking out of his nose. Love the picture of your family--such happy smiles.

Katrin said...

Oh no poor Alfie!! Cacti are nasty plants, they hurt! Glad you were able to get the spikes out easily though.

1000 Goldens said...

Oh, that is a very sad story :( Alfie is a trooper! It is so beautiful there with the stone wall and the flowers!

Michelle said...

hey its not often we get to see Charissa AND Katharine AND Tim in a photo! :) oh yeah, and that Alf too! :)

Sarah and Vance said...

just realized I don't have you added on my blog list went ahead and did it if that's okay with you. Alfie is such a sweetie!

Toby- The dog with a blog said...

Poor little cute Alfie!