Bright and early on the morning of August 14th Cisco jumped into the car and headed to Trinity to pick up his carpool buddies and travel to GRP for the TES Faculty Retreat.  Now, those of you that know Cisco know that he did not “jump” into the car since it seems to be a skill that he refuses to master.  He is physically capable of lifting his 64lbs frame into the back of the Subaru but he would rather put his front paws up and wait for one of his human friends to lift his back end.  Since Cisco works so hard for me on a daily basis I have let the car thing go (really because I like the attention too!).

When traveling, Cisco usually has the full “trunk” of the Outback to himself but traveling with four women meant that he needed to share his “trunk” with luggage and sleeping bags.  Usually he chews whatever happens to end up in his space but he seemed to know he was “working” and left everything alone.  Occasionally he hung his head over the back seat making sure we didn’t forget about him but otherwise he quietly sat and watched the world pass by in reverse while looking out the back window.

We finally arrived at GRP and Cisco happily jumped out of the car (he does this with NO hesitation!) and instinctively knew he was in a magical space!  Although I knew it was a magical space too, I was a bit apprehensive to just let Cisco run free since the field was surrounded by woods, cabins, a chicken coop, and other awesome things a dog would love to go investigate as he conveniently forgot his name (all the dog owners and parents out there know what I mean about “forgetting his name”, that moment when the outside world is just too interesting to respond to something as silly as a given name!).  I handed his leash off to a colleague as I went to unpack the car and he batted his blond eyelashes until he was released from the confines of his leash.  He then proceeded the happily greet each and every faculty and staff member with his signature smile and contagious tail-wag!  I am happy to report he did not forget his name at all and came running to whomever happened to mutter “Cisco” or issued a calling whistle.  He did investigate the awesomeness that surrounded the field but did so with respect and awe!

Something amazing happened for both me and Cisco after those first wonderful moments on the field at GRP.  We realized that we were part of a family.  Now, I knew I was a part of it but I wondered how Cisco would be folded in to this amazing family.  I thought it was his winning smile and contagious energy that gained him instant membership but now I think he had little to do with it but rather the existing family was SO willing to open its arms to him.  He no longer had one or two people looking out for him, he had about 70!  At one point I called out his name and did not hear him rushing through the woods towards me but did hear “He is with me!”, issued from a fellow family member somewhere within earshot!  Another audible sigh of relief…

With this new relief that he was in good hands I went about setting up his crate and unpacking our essentials in the cabin we were sharing with four other ladies.  As I wandered towards the Lodge I heard giggles and splashes.  Instantly, my brow furrowed and I wondered what Cisco had gotten himself in to, knowing that if there was water he was in it with or without an invitation!  As I quickened my pace and exited the woods I found Cisco and saw that he was experiencing doggie nirvana!  He had found the two GRP dogs, Carrot the Boxer and Bear the Golden Retriever, and the stocked Trout pond…game on!!  They ran, jumped, wrestled, swam, ran, swam, and fished!  That’s right, Cisco was fishing for the first time in his life.  Sandy (the guy that runs GRP) would throw fish food into the pond and the trout would scrabble to get the food while Cisco tried (unsuccessfully) to catch one of the trout.  I was mesmerized watching the three dogs play without a care in the world.  Suddenly my attention wandered from the dogs to the people that had gathered.  As people gathered on their way to the Lodge they engaged in friendly chit-chat while watching the dogs play with reckless abandon!  I wonder if that friendly chit-chat was made a bit easier with the presence of these dogs playing like crazy, weaving between groups of people, stopping right next to a group to shake off the excess trout pond water then running away like their hair was on fire.  For me, the dogs make everything just a little bit easier and a little bit less stressful and I was happy to see that the same seemed to be true for many of the faculty and staff members standing there watching and chatting (insert another audible sigh of relief!).

Although there are many other stories to share we will pause at this point.  Our next posts will attempt to communicate the beginning of the school year.  Just during the Wildcat Roundup we gathered about 100 stories about Cisco’s potential as the TES School Dog!  Keep your tails wagging…

~Jen and Cisco