So it only took Madison one more try to perfect her doggie paddle and pretty soon her new game became chasing me in the water. I became the prey. And I try to swim away from her quickly, not only because I want her to get better at swimming but also because when she catches me it is painful as her claws rake down my arms in the water. I also had cut open my heel last time on a rock or piece of glass so I drove to REI and purchased these fabulous water shoes from Teva. Only I should have checked Amazon first, because they are cheaper there. I can run, hike, and swim in them, and they dry in a jiffy. They do slow me down a bit in the water and with Madi-Shark coming after me with that serious look on her face I find it hard to swim through my laughter sometimes. But that's not the shoe's fault.
So it was Chloe's turn. As littermates Chloe and Madison share half of their DNA, same mother different fathers, and although Chloe is in great shape as well, she did not not get the quite the same Super Dog genes that her sister did. No matter. That dog would follow Madison through the gates of Hell. So with Mad and I already in the water and Chloe in the shallow water desperate to follow us, we clambered up on the rocks on the opposite bank. I knew Chloe would get it. I did make myself hoarse with calling her name though. Witnessing her dog brain try and figure out how she could get to us without sinking into that deeper water was humorous too. First one approach, then another, but no, she would have to make the leap. And again, we had an audience of onlookers who were rooting her. At one point, Chloe was so frustrated that she could not follow us that she started barking at people on dog beach. I swam over to her and was able to do what Madison would not let me do, I gently pushed her into the deeper water, keeping her supported. It freaked her out, but she was more trusting of me than her sister had been, so I finally gave her the heave-ho straight at the opposite bank where Madison was waiting. She was paddling away, a bit smoother than Mad's first attempt, but then Chloe is part Retriever after all. Both of my dogs have webbed feet for pete's sake. Who knew?
Anyway, I don't need to yammer on and on about my fur-kids, but I have to say teaching them to swim has made quite a change in all of our lives. Not only is swimming an excellent activity for us older gals who want to mitigate the wear and tear on our joints from a well-lived life full of activity, it also forces me to take an extra hour or more out of my jam-packed day to just do something stupid fun. I tend to get wrapped up in my training, gardening and chores, but the last few weekends we've been out on the bike by 7am due to the heat and I'm done by 10, which is very liberating. After my protein shake it's back out to the park for a hike and swim with Mad and Chloe. Even better, this past weekend we got a surprise visit from Sabrina, Alessandra and Florie, so we spent the better part of the afternoon hiking in the Wissahickon and swimming at an even bigger swimming hole frequented by LOTS of ecstatic canines. By the end of the day both Madison and Chloe were diving off rocks into the water, completely submerging themselves for a second until their heads bobbed up and they were gliding forward. Really funny. Afterward it was back to 3434 for a dinner on the patio with vegetables the kids picked from my garden. Talk about a day we will cherish forever.