Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dog Story

theo swimming
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
This morning, like every morning (what are we going to do tonight, Brain? Same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!) I took the dogs to the park-whose-name-I-won't-disclose by the river so they could run happily leash free and I could wander along in a sleepy, sinusitis daze and occasionally take mediocre photographs. One morning, not long ago, there were geese in the river and occasionally, there are ducks. These are mornings of Great Importance to the dogs, particularly Theo, who is smart enough to notice and frantically bark at waterfowl. Django pretty much thinks everything is his friend if he even notices it at all, but mostly, he's oblivious, or, if we want to put the zen spin on it, all things, from geese to grassblades, are as one thing to him. He doesn't prioritize. Come to think of it, Django and I are not unalike; there are mornings when a squad of polar bears in full body armor flanked by herons with trumpets could pass me in the park and I wouldn't even see them.

Anyway, this morning was duck free, but there was a roughly duck sized chunk of white foam floating down the river. Chunk may be the wrong word here but you know what I mean - those lumps of foam that happen on rivers and at the beach. I don't know if they're some kind of evil scary industrial detergent pollution or the gentle to be reverenced effluvia of Mother Nature but Theo has evidently decided that they are Dangerous and Must Be Stopped, or maybe that they are ducks.

So he started barking like a complete lunatic and chasing the foam, which was moving at a pretty good clip, down the riverbank. This cracked me up. I tried to explain that the foam was not a duck, employing the same conversational English I usually use with the dogs, to wit: "Dude! Theo, man, that is SO not a duck. It's, like, foam." (I don't know why I assume my dogs are stoners and thus use the requisite language but, well, there you have it. ) Theo ignored me so I started throwing stones at the foam to break it up. It turns out my aim with a stone has deteriorated in the last 30 years or so, or, possibly, I was never all that good. I winged it once (Wung it?) but it had no effect on the foam or on Theo who at this point was in the grip of an epic obsessive madness.

Theo has never liked water. When we're out hiking he usually tries to keep his delicate collie paws dry and he complains if we even have to cross a stream. He'll wade occasionally but generally, Theo is not a big river fan. Now, Django's total obliviousness extends to water - if he notices it, he likes it and he goes dashing in. Usually, you can see Theo making faces of disdain while Django's happily splashing away. So this morning's performance was unprecedented: I've never seen Theo ever get that close to the river before and he was going nuts scrambling up and down the banks and along the shore, barking all the time.

The current swung the foam in closer to the bank and Theo, at that point hysterically barking on a log, dove in. HE SWAM. He's never swum before! He swam out to that foam and by god he BIT IT really hard and I mean with confidence and vigor, like, CLONK. The foam broke into pieces and Theo, looking slightly confused but with a general mission accomplished air, swam back. Django, who has never actually swum either, was meanwhile freaking out all over the place, unable to decide whether he should bark, run in circles, jump on Theo, jump on me, just jump or what. He settled on doing all of that simultaneously while Theo shook off and got in a last few barks in case there was more foam where that came from. It was brilliant and completely hilarious. It was slightly less brilliant 20 minutes later when I was loading two totally soaked (Django always gets totally soaked. He doesn't even have to swim. It's just one of those mysteries.) dogs into the car but the whole adventure was so awesome, I didn't even care. Theo can swim! Who knew!?


rainbaby said...

Hooraaay! Yay Theo! It's A Christmas Miracle! Great story, mgl.

zen said...

i so love your blog, Fliss.

honeytoo said...

I love your blog too.Our dog won't go past chest deep for a hot dog 6" in front of her as an incentive. Hail the swimmer dogs for their courage and sheer instinct. By the way, your recipe for pork butt went over big in this household.

PA_Lady said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who talks to my puppy in stoner language! (Technically, he's my son's...but you know how that goes.)

This baby pit-bull is not only afraid of water - the toilet scares him, okay? - but he has to be forced outside whenever the ground is the slightest bit wet. Then it's rush out, do whatever, and rush to the door, barking frantically for me before he's even finished.

This worked until ... Tank's first snowstorm. He absolutely refused to go out. Just sat there in huddled misery by the door for hours until it was go out into the wet, white stuff or make a mess.

And all the while, good ol' Mom's saying, "Dude, you just have to, like, go out. It's snow, dude. It can't hurt you."

mygothlaundry said...

thanks, y'all! I think the secret to a swimming dog is to throw them in. My ex-husband threw Toby in when he was a puppy and although at the time I was horrified and shouting and making accusations of terrible cruelty and threatening to call the ASPCA, well, I have to admit that after that one toss, Toby adored the water, would plunge in and swim in anything at all, and used to spend hours with us sailing on the eastern shore of Maryland, swimming back and forth from boat to boat. One of these days I'm throwing Django. Should have done it last night when I found the ruins of my Introducing the Beatles album, grrrr.