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Dear sandy,
The Laguna Madre Humane Society's annual "Isle-Ditter-Dog" event is coming up on Jan. 26 at Louie's. I have read how your dog Wags has won his division several times. I am thinking of entering my dog in the race and wondered if you would be willing to share any tips for improving his performance.
It is true that Wags has done very well in the Isle ditter Dog races, bringing home two blues and one red ribbon in the past three years in the "Yapper" class. However, I must admit that his performance last year was.... somewhat less than stellar. Truth is,, Wags is no spring chicken. Though he has maintained his boyish figure and puppylike enthusiasm for playtime, he is in his 11th year and appears to be losing his competitive edge. While I have no plans to run him in this year's race, he will still make an appearance to show his solidarity and support for the Laguna Madre Humane Society and all of the fine work it does for our community

Since neither I nor Wags have anything to gain by keeping them to myself, please read on for my tried and true training tips:

  1. Lots of running! The town's leash laws make this a bit tricky, but as far as we know you can still give your dog a good legal run on the beaches north of town... but be sure and get far enough away from the beach traffic.
  2. Lots of naps! Wags averages 12-15 a day. Mom's computer time = Wags' naptime
  3. Squeaky toy practice - Wags has a large selection of squeaky toys kept in an open-sided bin so he can pull one out whenever the mood strikes. Current favorite: a rubber foot given him by his auntie Dolores. The game rules are simple: he waggles the squeaky in front of me; I snatch it from him and throw it across the room; he chases after it and brings it back to me; much growling ensues before we start all over again. After 10-15 minutes of this, it is back to nap time.
  4. Trial run - this is an important one. If this year's event is like previous years', the carts are set up on the track prior to the "Puppy Pachanga" fashion show, giving the dogs and their trainers an opportunity to sneak out and do a practice run or two. While most dogs don't seem to mind being harnessed to the little cart, the rattle of the wheels on the pavement can be a distraction. A little bit of practice before the races begin can help convince your canine athlete that the cart is not really out to get him/her.
  5. Trainers need to train too! Remember that you will be running with your dog and s/he can't go any faster than you can. If you suspect that you might be holding your dog back from his/her best performance, than recruit another - more fleet-footed - human to run with your dog
wags and foot

The only thing that can come between Wags and his squeaky foot is -- that darn cat.

Finally, I would encourage everyone - including non-dog owners - to come out to this event and contribute if you can. There will be a lot of fun stuff for everyone happening in conjunction with the race. The Port Isabel Animal Shelter is a no-kill facility that depends on community support for its funds... volunteers are always appreciated as well. For more info, visit the LMHS web-site at www.petsadrift.com.

Another one from the FAQ (frequently asked questions) file:

Hello Ms. Feets,

Our family (me, wife, two kids under 10) are planning a trip to the island in March. Yes, I know that is "spring break crazies" time but we are going to tough it out. My question is - where do you suggest we stay? We want someplace nice and on (or at least close to) the beach, but really don't want to be in the thick of the youngsters if we can help it. Any and all suggestions appreciated!

This is a really well-written "ask sandy" question. Polite, specific, brief and to the point. The only problem is that - much as I would like to - I can't answer it. I am also guessing that it is not the last time that I am going to get asked this question.... and it sure isn't the first time. Someone out there - maybe YOU? - has an answer for this nice man, and I would like to help you find each other.

If you are a property owner or manager who has one or more units to rent during spring break but not to spring breakers, please employ one of the many contact options listed below to provide me with a brief description - (location, occupancy limitations, web-site link -if applicable, and contact info) and I will do my level best to match you up with the non-spring breaker of your dreams by posting it on a soon-to-be-created page at SPIonline.com.

There are five (5) ways to submit your questions/comments for future Ask Sandy columns: In person; by phone (761-6222) or fax (761-8930); the US Postal System (box 2694,spi,78597) and E-mail: (sandyfeet@unlitter.com). Visit my web-site (http://spionline.com/) for tips on sandcastling, contest info, recent Ask Sandy columns, and my reviews of local businesses.

See some more sandy feet columns


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