Thursday, February 26, 2009

The New Game

Here are a few shots of Tuc and Pinot retrieving from the deck yesterday afternoon when it was so delightfully sunny outside. It's a new game for them, since they're used to me working with them in the yard. The routine is that I stand on the deck, lob the Kong anywhere in the yard, they retrieve it, and bring it back to the deck wherever I happen to be standing.

It works quite wel, especially when it's muddy -- I don't have to stand in the mud to give them exercise, and the crew still gets their focused runs.

But my throwing for them from the deck doesn't work well in rain.

Aside from yesterday, the weather here has been generally crummy: mostly that cold drizzle and chilling rain so typical of late fall, but for some reason now typical of late winter/early spring here. Yuk.

As much as I love my Labs. I will not stand in a cold soaking rain to throw for them. Not in this chill-you-to-the-bone rain anyway, when it's 40 degrees outside.

The canine gang doesn't get it though. Rain? Cold? Mud? Hypothermia? Who cares????? Just throw the dummy for us, Mom! Throw a rope. Throw a Kong... just throw something!!

Especially Pinot. That girl is so driven to retrieve. When everyone else has had enough (they do get tired sometimes), she's just getting started.

So she and Tuc invented a new game. If Mom Won't Come Outside in the Rain to Throw for Us, We'll Bring a Kong to the Door so She can Throw it from There.

Yup, you got it. When it's raining and miserable outside now, I stand in the doorway of the family room, which leads to the deck, and throw a Kong over the deck out into the yard for them to retrieve. Pinot and Tuc track it down and bring it back to my feet. They haven't brought things back to my feet or my hand yet when I work with them in the yard (they usually "drop" about three feet in front of me). But when it rains now, and we're playing our new game, they'll drop a Kong on my toes (quite literally).

I don't even get wet. I stay nice and cozy in my slippers, which I don't have to remove since I'm not going outside, and I stay dry and warm and delightfully chill-free. I only have to open the door, catch the prized retrieving item before it hits my feet, heave it again, close the door, and wait for Pinot and Tuc to return.

Oh, and if I'm not at the door when they get back, look out. First they'll drop the Kong like normal. Then they'll drop the Kong more obviously (with a little umph) onto the metal door runner (makes an impressive noise). Then they'll throw the Kong at the door.


Silly silly kids. Pinot and Tuc, but especially Pinot, can't get enough retrieving. Their focus and drive wear me out. Tuc at least slows down and wants to take a break now and then. Not Pinot. She would do this until she keeled over.

And she was the pup from her litter we worried about -- remember her neonatal heart murmer (she was little Miss Black from the 2007 litter)!

Hokey Pete. I've never seen endurance like Pinot's. If only they had marathons for dogs.

I have to laugh. They figured this game out entirely on their own. I was watching them in the rain through the door one day two weeks ago, and Pinot caught a glimpse of me there. She grabbed the Kong she's been tossing for herself in the yard (yes, she tosses for herself), and came barrelling with Tuc up onto the deck straight to the door. She dropped the Kong at the stoop, did her ohboyohboyohboymomsgonnathrowforus dance and gave me those irresistable pleading eyes, and I caved. I opened the door, picked up the Kong and threw it for them.

I haven't been able to stand at the door in peace since.

Smart silly kids. Driven-to-retrieve kids. Lab kids. I wouldn't trade 'em for the world.

And now we both get what we want (I stay dry in the rain, they get to retrieve).

If only all life's challenges were so easily solved.

'Til next time,


Leslie Hanna said...

Oh, how sweet! Dogs are amazing...and accomodating! My cat will thankfully entertain herself, too, when Mom (that's moi) is too busy. But once she figures out Mom will play, too, it's all over! You have a good bunch of furry ones!

JuliaR said...

Smart is right! It takes some figuring to realize that you have to drop the kong exactly at the door.

Mary said...

Dang, I wish I could teach Hope that trick. Nope, we have to go outside and retrieve. But then again, I live in the South where the sun shines most of the time and it is already 80 degrees outside. I HATE hot weather. Oh well, anything for my Hope.

Chester's Mom said...

Pinot asked me to write this to you, from her:

Where there's a will,
there's a way
when it comes time
to retrieve and to play!
No slipper footed woman
will stand in the way.
From the first light of dawn
to the last ray of day
please throw my kong
till you're old and gray.

Thanks, Mama Joan!