By Rob Ficiur
Over the last few weeks we have looked after our grand-doggie. When I volunteered to look after this well-mannered canine, I forgot how much work it is to have a pet. Walking the dog every day means every day, even if you feel tired (or lazy). In these weeks I have learned a few new sports that I was unaware of.
1. Hide & Seek Night Vision Version – More often than not, walking the dog occurred after dark in the evenings. When the streets of Bow Island look deserted know that there are many things hidden in the dark. Walking along at a brisk pace was often interrupted by a sudden pull of the leash. “What is wrong with you, Dog?” I would mutter. “You are barking at nothing, and pulling my arm out of the socket at the same time.” Then barely visible to the mortal eye I would inevitably see a small bunny in the dark of the dark. Many times I had been looking in that direction and saw nothing. Dogs must have extraordinary night vision and or a great sense of smell.
2. Early morning walks – This week we took our walk at 5:45 am (once). This early morning walk was nothing like the 10 pm chase the bunny and pull your arm out of its socket walk. During the walk we actually built up speed and momentum. Since there were no other humans or animals out on the street, or sidewalk or hidden under a bush we walked on our walk. Since this early morning walk was so exhilarating one might suspect that from that day on I walked the dog at 5:45 every morning. No, that did not happen. For the reason why see New Sport #3.
3. Great to see You! Do you want to play? (2 am version) – There have been a few nights when our friendly dog has wanted to play more games. At 2 am, the only game I want to play is “Go to sleep!” By the time I explain this in puppy language, and the dog is back to sleep, I am awake. Wide awake. Wide awake at 2 am always lasted longer than I wished it would. When 5:45 came around the last thing I felt like doing was getting up early for a walk.
4. Playing Catch or not – One of the tricks we tried to avoid the 2 am session was vigorous exercise for the dog (not for me). The most effective game was playing catch. We went into a vacant lot and threw a tennis ball as far as I could. Within seconds the dog raced the distance and was back with the ball. Along with the dog we received a ball launcher. This plastic spaghetti scooper like thing, can throw a ball three times farther than the human arm. Again the dog eagerly returned with the ball in seconds ready for another throw.
Playing catch is not an effective game without the ball. When we lost the tennis ball down a gopher hole, that ended the game that night. When I asked where the ball was, she pointed to the same hole and tried to dig her way through, but to no avail.
Some games of ball toss were more fun for me than for the dog. I was impressed when she would catch the ball in the air or on one bounce. Again and again I would throw and she would run and jump and catch.
Inevitably it was the dog, not the human who determined when each game of catch ended. “Okay, give me the ball so I can throw it again. Stop running away from me! Bring me the ball so I can throw it! I can’t run after you!” Actually I could run after the dog, but I never could catch her. Naively I thought that the canine ended the game when she was tired. But no, once we were back inside, she wanted more running games. One of us was worn out and it was the animal.
5. Dumb Bunny & Nature Notes – During the summer I think that every gopher within one hundred kilometers came through our back yard every night to sing and make holes. Once our grand-doggie arrived in early August, I don’t remember seeing or hearing the World Wide Gopher conferences meeting in our yard again.
One night while walking the dog through a back alley, about six rabbits burst out of their hiding spots to flee the coming human and his faithful canine. Five of the rabbits headed to a field as afar away from us as possible. The sixth one, who we will call Dumb Bunny, raced down the alley the same way we were going. My shoulder, arms, back and every other muscle are still recovering from the effort it took to save Dumb Bunny from the disaster that would have happened if I had let go of the leash.
Now that our beloved grand-doggie has returned to her own humans, life will go back to normal. Most days I will be too tired to walk, so I won’t. When I get home no one will be jumping down the stairs to greet me (and possibly knock me over) when I come home. (Even if I have only been gone for ten minutes.) When I go outside and throw the tennis ball, I will eventually realize that I will have to chase after it if I want it back.
Next week I will write about the playoff bound Toronto Blue Jays. I did not want to jinx their final week of the season and say how good they had played. With that thought in mind maybe I should not write about them until they are through the playoffs and World Series…