Saturday, June 16, 2007

Learning to Play

I taught a dog to play today. She seemed a little depressed. Judging from the story her owner told, I can understand why. This poor man was driving in New Mexico when he stopped for gas and found Kirby.* She was what humans call a stray, just hanging around the gas station. When he found out she was homeless, the man felt bad and took her with him. He was from New York City so he knew a lot about homelessness.

Kirby was just kind of sad. I sniffed her and poked her but she just stood there looking at me as if I was crazy. She didn’t know how to chase a ball, which I personally find boring and regimented, but she looked a lot like the type of dog who might enjoy that sort of thing. I kept it up, running a little but she just didn’t take a hint.

Our owners started walking and she picked up a little speed as we followed. Then my owner did this really stupid thing that she does now and then when she thinks I am being too lethargic. She called me and started running a little as if she was chasing me. I’ll admit, sometimes – ok most of the time— I fall for it and think she is actually going to run around with me, and I start running. Suddenly Kirby understood and she started chasing me.

We had a lot of fun that morning. Kirby stopped worrying about where her owner was and just and ran around. I remember when I was like that. New to the city, in a strange place with two strange people. I didn’t even know how to walk up the stairs. It was very scary, not that life in a cage had been thrilling but you get used to things. Change is good, that’s my motto now. I’ll always jump in the car when I’m invited.

Before I came to Denver, I lived in the country with a few other dogs. We were in cages most of the time and ran around a in a little yard once a day. Of course, when they let me free so my owner could look at me and that lazy cocker spaniel who just stood there, I ran around like a nut. I hadn’t been free in months. They said something about me being hyper, but my owner could see through that. “He looks like he won’t shed,” she said, but I knew she was just trying to be tactful and not hurt the cocker spaniel’s feelings.

I was scared on the ride home and I even got carsick. I still feel bad about that sometimes when I sit in the back seat even though it’s been cleaned up. And then my stupid phobia about the stairs. That was before I realized that I could stand on them and look down on the table. And I can jump on the table from one of the chairs, but that is really frowned upon in our house, so now I only do it when no one is in the room.

I used to follow my owner around too. She was the only person I knew at first. That was before I got to know the bearded one, my other owner, who is much more likely to give me pieces of cheese and let me lick his beard and mustache. Kisses, he calls it. He is good at belly rubs and ear messages, and he never uses that wire brush on me. Now I run around whenever I am loose. But when they call my name, I’m happy to get back on the leash. For me it’s not a feeling of bondage which I’m not into at all. It just reminds me that I have a family and a home now. Kirby is starting to understand that now.

*not her real name

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