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Jottings contributor Marlene O'Brien shares insight into a weekend trip which focused on the needs of dogs.

Each year, our family looked forward to the two nights watching the televised Westminster Dog Show.

We watched in the upstairs TV room and our black Labrador, Ted, would watch in the downstairs family room. He had the awesome task of barking each dog around, as they took their order from the judge for "once around" the arena.

We had the scratch marks on that TV to prove that he took his job very seriously. We all loved watching those beautiful animals, and missed it when Ted was no longer around to speed the dogs on their run.

When a neighbor invited me to go to the beach with her family, I knew her golden retriever would be accompanying us. Her daughter's family would also be going, and I knew they had a dog.

What I didn't know was that they had three dogs. So the lineup for the weekend would be two grandmas, one daughter and son-in-law, two small toddlers, two malamute huskies, one golden retriever and one King Charles cavalier spaniel. With a mix like that, you just knew fun and excitement were on the way.

The huskies, Hank and Turk, were brothers and very beautiful animals with large, gorgeous fur coats and very nice dispositions. They could have been the poster dogs for the University of Washington Huskies.

These two could not stand to be apart from each other and would raise their heads and howl loudly if they could not see the other brother. What admirable devotion to family. We all became accustomed to that fact, until the incident happened.

Each morning and evening, they were taken for a long run. However, one morning Hank got his leash tangled while snooping under the outdoor deck. He howled loudly to his brother Turk who was sitting on the deck. Turk howled back to him.

Now we had two howling dogs at 6:30 a.m. and neighbors who had every right to enjoy a relaxing, calm weekend were being denied leisurely rest.

It took some time to untangle the leash, stop the howling and let the neighbors go back to sleep. Hank and Turk were so happy to be reunited. I am also sure that the neighbors immediately nixed any thoughts of inviting our household over for a potluck.

The golden, Sophie, had a sweet disposition and also loved to have her run on the beach. We all took turns doing that, as she was easy to accompany. But all the dogs would try to get in the surf if they could. The huskies would try to bite or catch the waves as they came ashore. That meant each dog had to be hosed off, to remove the salt water and the sand, and towel dried. We did that two times a day for each dog.

Now we come to the King Charles Cavalier spaniel, Savy. That dog was bossy, barked (rather yipped) when she didn't get her way and thought she ruled the dog kingdom.

She was small, assertive, demanding, and ordered the other dogs around — and they let her. It amazed me that this little thing took command over the much larger dogs.

Four dishes were put out for food but when Savy barked, the other three dogs backed away, and Miss Savy ate her food first while they waited their turn. Miss Savy would also plunk herself down on the middle cushion of the sofa and not move for any human.

We would take all the dogs for walks each day, and everyone saw us coming. They would admire the nice assortment of animals that we had. And, we were quite a sight to see: one toddler in a stroller, one toddler slowly testing his legs, two grandmas, one with a cane, two adults and four dogs on leashes, twisting in and around all of us. We could not have been more noticeable if we had parakeets perched on our heads! The toddlers were absolutely no problem for the entire long weekend, and were mesmerized by all the dog activity.

It was a wonderful sight to watch the three larger dogs run in the sand. They were free and could run for miles if their keeper could keep up with them. They loved that part of each day. I frankly think they were also happy to be out of earshot of the demanding Savy. I felt the same way and was also anxious to get off the porch and out with the big dogs.

It was an eventful long weekend. However, the next time I am invited, I will ask, "Are we taking the dogs?"

Marlene O'Brien is a member of the Jottings group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.

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