Construction Complete on the Puppy Obstacle Course!
Bob and Marlene came with the pieces of the puppy obstacle course this afternoon. We spent time putting the various pieces where they would go and I realized my inability to do puzzles has once again reared its ugly head. The setup is much wider than my old one, mostly because the lumber yard cut the connecting ramps between the high and low platforms to 6′ long when I had planned on 2′ at most. We played around with the setup for quite a while and came up with two options. One would be to cut off a bunch of lower branches on one side of the pine tree and butt one high platform against it. The other is to set it up in the treeless area close to the puppy house, with the disadvantage that that pups it in a watered lawn area with grass that has to be mowed all year as opposed to the back part which needs little mowing once the rains end. We took photos and e-mailed them to Steve so he could be pondering the best thing to do – either cut the connecting ramps in half to get the width of the obstacle course to fit the back area or put it in the open area and put some kind of backing on the high platforms since there will be no tree branches to discourage jumping off. Bob and Marlene say Steve is a magician at problems like this so I’m looking forward to what we end up doing.
Puppies 36 days old
Steve arrived, took one look at how we’d set up the obstacle course, and said why don’t we reverse it, put the low platforms by the tree and the high ones in the open? The three of us just stood there with our mouths open. In all our trying to figure possibilities yesterday and last night, none of us ever thought of that. I was concerned that a mother dog might try to jump out over the 7′ fence from the 3′ high platform, but I have one more 2′ section of fencing and Steve will add that to the fence where the high platforms are close. We’ll put a little barrier on the edges of the high platforms since they won’t be by the tree, to block any pup (and it’s always a male who thinks he’s superman and jumps off high places, never a female who looks before she leaps).
Marlene had a great time playing with the puppies whenever the guys didn’t need us to do something. She’d play and visit with them until they crashed, come back to the project for a bit, then go back to play again when they woke up. The weather was amazing. It never got above 68 degrees and, though nearly all day we had low clouds and no sun, none of the forecast thunderstorms materialized–a fantastic day for all our hard work.
This is going to be a work of art. The guys are actually using levels, and they buried the big platforms 6″ so they’d be exactly 3′ high. Sure will be different from my cobbled together efforts. They angled the line between the two low platforms so they could use the 6′ ramps between them and their associated high platform. This is going to be a huge playground for the pups, totally different from my envisioned two levels side by side. The area it takes up is probably 30′ square.
We got it put together and invited Berakah, who did agility competition until she injured a leg, to try it out. Good thing we did! When she went over the swinging bridge, the platforms came partially up out of the ground. Granted, puppies weigh a lot less, but the mother dog will be in with them, too, so the guys thought a bit and added 2 x 4’s on the ground attached to the legs. It didn’t have enough sway to it, so the guys took the 1″ x 6″ boards off the straps and cut them into 1″ x 3″ boards. When we attached them to the straps we put a 1/4″ chip between the each board before screwing them onto the straps. Narrower boards with spaces between made the bridge nicely flexible.
I also thought the bridge was too steep where it attached to each platform. The cedar boards are slick and I didn’t feel the pups would have enough traction to get up and would just jump of the sides. We brought Miss Pink to try it out. She was stressed by being there alone, so we added Miss Red. Though both tried, they couldn’t negotiate the climb. We took out three boards and the angle lessened dramatically, so we brought out a couple more pups (I think Mr. Yellow & Miss Gold) to try again. They could negotiate the entire bridge from one high platform to the next, so we were in business.
Steve called it a day and left, but Marlene and Bob wanted to try all the puppies on the obstacle course so we brought them all out and had a great time. We got some “Are you absolutely crazy?” looks from the pups, but once they got used to it they began having fun. It helped that Marlene got on one of the low platforms and walked down the ramp to show them what to do. They followed her, got the idea, then began climbing up and down and playing. Both Marlene and Bob were great at encouraging and praising the pup for any little try. They got the idea and soon were trying to climb up the slide, especially Miss Gold.
I generally list pups in photos either from left to right or front to back, so you should be able to see who is who in these photos.
Mr. Yellow, Miss Pink & Miss Red
Mr. Yellow, Miss Gold & Miss Red
Miss Red, Mr. Blue & Miss Gold
Miss Gold, Miss Pink & Mr. Yellow
We also showed them how to do the slide, which they didn’t like at all at first.
Mr. Blue, Miss Red & Miss Pink
Miss Green, Miss Red, Mr. Blue & Miss Gold
Miss Green & Mr. Blue
Miss Gold, Miss Pink & Miss Red
Mr. Blue, Miss Gold & Miss Red
We then encouraged them to navigate the swinging bridge. We laughed and laughed and laughed and had a great time.
Mr. Blue, Miss Pink, Miss Red & Miss Green
Miss Pink, Miss Red & Miss Gold
Miss Gold & Miss Green
I LOVE this photo!!! They’re in perfect sync.
Miss Green & Miss Gold
Miss Red & Mr. Yellow