Monday, 3 December 2012

Puppy Reflections

In my last blog I was feeling my age. I'd injured my leg and was limping. That pain went away after a few days and I can walk normally again, I'm pleased to tell you. No trip to the vet required.

After an occasion like that, when you think your young life is over, it's nice to get a chance to remember what you used to be like. On Sunday I met a new pal, a six month old Staffie cross called Racey, who looked liked she could have been my sister if our parents had been the other way round. By that I mean her head, face and ears were typically Staffie in shape, rather than whippet like, but in almost every other way she was me as a pup: brindle, skinny, fast and playful.

My master and I were at the park beside the Thornley Dam and had already done a circuit up to the waterfall and back. It was a cold afternoon with a hard frost crunching under foot. My master had nearly slipped and fallen a couple of times as his walking boots slid across invisible patches of ice. 

Although I hate the cold, it's one saving grace is the fresh scents that linger in the ice. I love to explore the undergrowth and track whatever has been passing through. I rarely find the source but they're fun to follow. The thrill of the chase distracts me from the cold itself.

We'd passed a few dogs without incident, so I wasn't nervous for a change. I'm often wary of unknown dogs, not knowing how they'll react, especially puppies with their playful jumping and biting. I sometimes give them a warning snap, in case they hurt me, even by accident. It doesn't go down well with my master as he thinks I should know better at my age. I just shrug. Better safe than sorry. But that thought didn't enter my mind when I met Racey. When she looked at me, I saw myself reflected in her eyes. This was me six and a half years ago and I knew exactly what to do.

We both adopted the starting position, front legs low and stretched apart, ready to push off at the signal, staring eye to eye, watching for that first twitch. Then the dance began. We jumped and turned and twisted, wrestling playfully until I saw the opportunity to run so she'd give chase. I'd jink and dart and turn inside her path, teasing her to catch me and then I'd slow down to let her (but not until I'd done a couple of show boating laps of the grounds first). When she caught me she'd lick my face and mouth, roll on her back, slide along her front then bounce up and startle herself with a decision of what to do next. Then she'd look sideways at me and we'd run again. She paused once, distracted by a long twig that needed lifting. I grabbed the other end and we played a tug of war until it snapped and we both ran off with our half, only she dropped hers because she wanted mine.

She was tireless but I drew energy from her exuberance. We only stopped playing when my nose caught a whiff of her owner's treat pouch on one of my swift passes (when being chased, I often use the humans as a means of ditching my tail, as it were). I tried to help myself but she was wise to it and prevented my intrusion. She asked my master what tricks I could do and made me sit then crouch before parting with a reward. Racey got hers too for just coming back. She's got a lot to learn but time is on her side. She's got a long journey ahead. It's exciting to think about.

I hope we meet again. I was tired later but it was good to feel young again.