April 6th, 2007

new year

Walkies

Today there was a bunny. And a robin. But the very best was the black dog.

Insert rant here about how far too many Americans have dogs that they don't bother to discipline, and then when the large dog with muddy paws jumps up on me, the passerby, they just say, Oh don't worry he's friendly. Your dog may be friendly as all hell, honey, but you have just attacked me with an animal you have left to run wild, which is not a friendly kind of thing, particularly when you are holding the other end of the leash. And don't get me started on American children, to whom most of that rant applies as well. But I digress.

All by way of saying dogs, I can take them or leave them alone, I am really more of a cat person, and when I had an infant in a stroller I got a bit touchy on the issue and got an adrenaline rush that would allow me to happily drop-kick across the road any stray or uncontrolled dog that approached me, whether anyone was vouching for it or not. Now I am far more mellow, and take each dog on its merits, and don't blame it for the idiocies of its responsible person (like expecting the dog to read signs that say "No dogs allowed"). Mr S is something of a dog whisperer, and lets them know who is boss, and I am trying to figure this out myself, for instance, on my walk where the yappy little white bulldog on Colby Street startles me every time I approach his yard, and even though he wags his tail I am thinking I will just not walk on his sidewalk anymore.

But today I met a dog that has unexpectedly made his whole street one of my favorites. He is a big black collie-shepherd-retriever type mutt, quietly carrying his tennis ball around the back yard in his mouth. When I approached he came and put his paws up on the top rail of his three-and-a-half-foot cyclone fence and wagged his tail at me.

"Hi there," I said, thinking, Nice green tennis ball you've got there but how does this work? "You want me to throw it for you? give me the ball?" He looked at me eloquently and mouthed the ball along the top of his fence. Then I remembered the correct term and said, "Drop it!" He dropped it over the fence.

I was wowed. Now if I didn't pick up that ball for him, he had lost his nice ball in the street. He trusted me to know this game. So although I am not much of a thrower, I picked it up and threw it back into the yard. He went bounding after it and was back before I was three steps away. I turned back.

"Drop it!" He dropped it over the fence again. I was delighted. What a smart, well-trained animal! What kind humans he must have, to teach him how to make his dealings with the other humans so easy! I threw it back weakly again, and he was back with the ball in his mouth instantly. Clearly this could go on all day. I was in the middle of my walk on a very cold afternoon and had to keep moving.

"Drop it!" and he dropped it for me. I threw it harder, off to the other side of his rather small yard. This time I got all of fifteen steps away before he was back at the fence with the ball. I waved goodbye, wondering if that was the right way to do it, and walked on, marvelling. A demonstration of interspecies communication. I'll be back another day to play. He has me trained.