The Dog Grumbler
I’VE been writing this column for five or six years now.
Having a monthly deadline has been good for me I feel, but it gets harder each month to find things to write about.
About the bottom of each calendar page, I start losing sleep.
This month I have enjoyed several special moments and though they may not excite you, they did me, and in desperation for a topic I will share them with you.
I was walking through some bushland with Pippa the Schnoodle.
She lagged behind to inhale something special as a wallaby hopped across our path about two metres ahead.
Pippa saw and heard nothing.
She caught up and passed me a few steps later and as she crossed the path of the wallaby, a lightning change came over her.
In less than a second she was bounding through the bush in the direction the wallaby had taken.
I called her and was pleased to see her return instantly — well, almost instantly.
Here was an illustration of the power of smell.
There were lots of critters in the woods – their scat was everywhere and Pippa had been inspecting it throughout the walk, but this scent was only a couple of seconds old, so Pippa knew its owner was still close by.
The wallaby had hit the ground twice as it crossed the path, but Pippa knew instantly in which direction it had travelled.
Think about that.
Two, maybe three little scent cones rising from the ground where the wallaby had bounded through just seconds before, but Pippa could detect the relative decay in the scent between those points – and thus the direction of travel.
She knew in less than a second that a wallaby had come through here seconds before.
She knew it was not far ahead and which way it was headed.
How cool is that?
The second pleasant experience was on a visit to Bellerive beach the other day.
I had with me my toy poodle as well as three of her friends – a Spoodle, a Labradoodle and a Groodle.
As we reached the beach, we came upon a dog waiting for her owner to finish a phone call.
The dog was a little apprehensive, but I crouched down and waited as my group approached politely and they exchanged protocols.
Poppy the Labradoodle is very energetic and runs flat out wherever we go.
She and the stranger hit it off instantly.
Although they had very divergent backgrounds breed-wise, they were of similar size and shape and within a few moments they were taking turns chasing each other in circles.
The others had things to sniff but one by one they were drawn into the game and eventually all five were running madly as I and the lady with the phone watched and laughed.
If we hadn’t things to do elsewhere, I think they would have played until they collapsed from exhaustion.
I have seen a Chihuahua and a Great Dane play together.
With that kind of size difference, chasing is a bit futile but if the Great Dane rolls on its back they can play fight quite convincingly.
Some dogs never get to do this because their owners are afraid to let them off lead.
Some dogs never learn that it’s good to be a dog, never learn universal protocols by which dogs become friends.
Those dogs miss out, but not — by my reckoning — as much as their owners.
Watching dogs at liberty to interact with their own kind, seeing how easily they can make friends and how readily and enthusiastically they celebrate just being dogs is an uplifting thing.
I’m still charged by the experience.