A couple weekends ago, Mikey and I took The Bear for a stroll at Laumeier Sculpture Park. We’d been there once before with Teddy and had a decent time. There are a number of giant sculptures spread out through the park grounds. There’s also an indoor museum, featuring various art exhibits throughout the year.
But this latest trip to Laumeier was way cooler. And if you ask The Bear, he will tell you in bark speak that it was frickin’ awesome. Instead of staying on the primary park grounds where all the sculptures are on display, we ventured onto the wooded trails that weave behind the museum and outdoor sculptures. There, we found an array of interactive art displays that dogs can experience.
The first stop was a series of dog houses. Admittedly, most of them were too small for The Bear’s 72-pound boyish figure. Must’ve been made with Teacup Yorkies in mind. But there was at least one dog house, fashioned to look like a high-rise apartment building that The Bear climbed into for a good sniffing.
A few steps later we found the Treasury of Smells. It was a wooden house with a large box of smells inside it. According to the sign, said smells were a glorified compost pile of grass clippings and other residue from the grounds. The idea is to have your dog walk the perimeter, nose to the ground, entranced by the scents inside. Unfortunately, The Bear didn’t find much interest in whatever aromas the box was supposedly emitting. Although if one were to store some bushy-tailed squirrels in the Treasury of Smells, The Bear would be on it like white on rice. Stick that in the suggestion box!
The next activity was one of my favorites. A small log was hanging mid-air with a tie-out attached to it. The sign instructed us to unleash our dog and attach him to the tie-out, which hung from two cords and a pulley above us. The idea was to let your dog roam the wooded area without being attached to a leash. He could climb across tree stumps, sniff through foliage and run from one end of the cord to the other. It basically let him decide where he wanted to go.
The only downside was that the small log hung above Teddy like Eeyore’s rain cloud in Winnie the Pooh. At one point, Teddy noticed the floating log was following him wherever he went. And it kinda creeped him out.
The last activity wins the Most Cute Award. In a little clearing off the walking trail was a wooden stage with a faux microphone accompanying it. Above the stage in the trees was a speaker system that blared the sounds of dogs barking to St. Louis blues tunes every few minutes. The idea was that the singing dogs would provide intriguing sounds for your dog to react to. And maybe your dog would sing back? While The Bear, didn’t howl in his best Bear-itone voice, he did step up to the mic for a “testing 1, 2, 3”.
These outdoor art displays are really perfect for those dog owners who like to share everything they do with their dog (ahem, me). With Teddy’s high energy level, it’s too risky to take him to an outdoor cafe or farmer’s market. That scene from Marley & Me where the table flips over and Marley takes off chasing whatever it was — toy poodle, squirrel, bacon — is an act of chaos that I wouldn’t put past The Bear. I’d prefer an experience like this that’s made with dogs in mind by appealing to their senses and natural instincts.
Overall, it was a really fun morning of exploring. And if you ask The Bear for a rating, he’ll roll on his back and give it four paws up.