Sextiped Valley column: Welcome to a dog friendlier world, Little Juniper

Laurie Raymond
Sextiped Valley
Laurie Raymond

It was one of those very cold nights we’ve had so many of, lately. Around 11:30 p.m., two young women left the restaurant where they’d been enjoying a convivial evening with friends. Right outside, they heard the unmistakable crying of a very young puppy — and seconds later they spotted her. A little, black, very short-haired baby of nine weeks or so, shivering and whimpering with cold, toddling toward them, tail awag.

Dog lovers, they didn’t hesitate for a microsecond but scooped her up and zipped her into one of their jackets. Then they looked around, incredulous. No one was nearby, on Grand Avenue, downtown Glenwood Springs, around 10 degrees at nearly midnight. They walked around, looking out for someone who might have misplaced a puppy. No one had.

Nine week old puppies don’t go wandering city streets alone. It was pretty clear she had been dumped by someone hoping she might be saved. Maybe. But the puppy’s luck changed that night. The women, who are knowledgeable about dogs as well as compassionate, took her home with them for the night, and in the morning, knowing they couldn’t keep her, began a search for a new home. They had noticed a slight limp, but otherwise the puppy was bright and healthy-seeming, friendly and outgoing. They brought her to High Tails, where she was immediately engulfed in loving attention. One of the employees decided to adopt her and took her to get checked out by their vet. An X-ray showed a luxating patella, or “slipping knee-cap,” from an earlier injury. Because she’s going to be a big girl, it’s important to prevent her from horsing around too much while it heals.

I’m so proud of how the fate of this little abandoned puppy has been changed by the immediate and total commitment of her rescuers, who all work at High Tails. The little one’s new name is Juniper, and she is an energetic bundle of smarts, curiosity and love. And I’m also delighted that for this dog, opportunities for her to make the fullest use of her many talents are opening up in all directions.

We recently held another Dundee Dog Wash, this time co-sponsored by the Roaring Fork Kennel Club, to add to the fund to help with vet bills for pets in our valley. At the dog wash, club members and local dog trainers demonstrated some of the basic-and-beyond things for dogs to learn and do: the Canine Good Citizen certificate, for example. This is awarded to dogs who pass a rigorous test of manners in everyday public situations: encountering another dog, waiting calmly while left with a stranger, walking through a milling crowd.

Other trainers invited dogs waiting for their baths to try out nose games — a talent every dog has, which can be developed for many different sports, games and even search and rescue work. Agility is popular, and there were chances to try that, too, and a few brilliant dogs showed how easy it is to master a new trick in just a few minutes. Juniper will have plenty of opportunities to learn, growing up among dog people.

And she’ll grow up in a town where dog-friendly is becoming more than just a slogan. Many of the new apartment complexes under construction or being planned are pet-friendly. Landlords and property managers have come to realize that permitting pets is a winning strategy for attracting and retaining tenants. And a new company, Pets Are Welcome Here LLC, has formed to provide the support services to make it a resounding success.

Increasing emphasis on socializing and educating dogs so they’ll be welcome with their families in more places has led to the formation of a consortium of dog trainers and behavior management experts in the valley, who have the skill and knowledge to support this trend. Over 90% of “owners” consider their pets to be family members, and they want their animal companions welcomed more places. While some frustrated owners cheat by buying a fake service or support dog vest, instead, the local training group, supported by the 30-plus-year-old Roaring Fork Kennel Club, which recently changed its focus from its annual dog show to more community-centered activities, instead hopes to make the CGC test as common as spay/neuter for local dogs. And then, we’ll work to expand access.

Little Juniper, despite her scary start, picked a good time and place to be born.

Laurie Raymond owns High Tails Dog & Cat Outfitters in Glenwood Springs.

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