Saturday, March 21, 2009

Zuka's Physical Therapy

When I meet Zuka, a 17-month-old English Bulldog, she's sitting in a
tub of water, just like you see her doing in the picture, at a dog
park in Redding, CA. The tub is really the park's water bucket, used
by all the dogs to quench their thirst after raucous play.

But not when Zuka's using it.

It humors me to see the chunky, brick-like little dog curled around
inside the bucket, her squarish shape squished into a circular fashion.

Even more humorous: Her fierce protection of the tub and
her red ball that floats in what little water surface is left after
she wedges herself in. Several dogs stop by for a sip and get a snarl
and nip instead.

I grab my camera and splish splash, she's out, running around,
playing with the very dogs she snapped at seconds earlier.

My disappointment over the lost photo opportunity must be obvious,
because her mom hollers over: "Wait a few minutes, she'll be back in."

Sure enough, in less than five minutes, she's protecting her watery
turf again against all intruders. I snap away, then she jumps out
ready to play again.

There's a story behind these pit/tub stops. When she was 5 months old,
Zuka was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. So she's been on a restricted
diet and exercise program all her little life. The exercise includes
coming to the dog park and chasing her favorite red ball.

Her mom is convinced Zuka hops in the cool water to soothe her joint
pain. Then hops out to play again. That's why mom so confidently told
me I'd have more chances to get a good picture.

After an hour of play/physical therapy, it's time for Zuka to go home,
with her ball, and not as much pain thanks to her personal tub of water.

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