Meet Hi-Octane Java, my lovable, Jumping Java Bean, is now 6 years old. Her advancing age has not diminished her love of retrieving… It’s probably even more intense than it was when she was younger. It’s simply wired into her DNA and she was born to do it.
Tonight, we were playing ball as we do every night after my work day is done…
It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, pitch-black dark, snowing, etc…
Java NEEDS to Retrieve.
I’ve just hit the ball with my trusty tennis racket and she’s motoring to the far corner of the yard to get it. Taking a nice, straight line.
I hit a second ball to the opposite corner of the front yard for my other, more mature dog, Maxshadow, but Java see’s it first. She’s now locked on to it like a heat seeking missile.
She breaks on it and beats Max to the ball. Max looks at me with the frustrated eyes of a dog that’s starting to act at least 3/4’s of his 12, human-years of age.
“See?” he asks me with his eyes, “How can I even compete with THAT?”
This is when Java does the strangest thing:
Rather than scooping up the 2nd ball with that incredibly long tongue of hers and running back to me with one ball completely enclosed within her mouth and the 2nd, hanging halfway out. (Hey, I’ve seen her with 3 in there…it doesn’t look comfortable, but she pulls it off with style.)
She drops the 1st ball and then paws at both of them. Her forehead is wrinkled with a look of confusion and she keeps pawing at both balls. Looking at them, looking to me and tilting her head in that universal canine body language sign that says, “What the hell do I do now?”
I tell her, “Bring it” (this is play time, not work, so I didn’t use the “F” command.) She’s giving me the strangest look, I know angst when I see it although I’ve rarely seen it displayed so honestly. She is frantically pawing at both balls; obviously frustrated. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why on this occasion, she seems incapable of picking up both balls at once or why she just doesn’t bring back ONE of the balls. The look on her face has me almost convinced that there has got to be a baby bird over there… or maybe something dead.
I walk the 25-30 yards to the tree line, where Java is still insistently pawing at the 2 balls but not mouthing them. She’s wiggly now, there is hope in her eyes because “Mama” (yes, that’s me,) Mama is there to save the day.
I survey the situation… Nothing dead, no baby birds… Just 2 new but now dirty, yellow balls, a bunch of dirt, mud and leaves. I give the command, “Get it!” and she looks at me like I’ve gone nuts, So I reach down and pickup the first ball thinking… “That’s pretty muddy,” at that exact instant my olfactory faculties and my sense of touch kicked into overdrive, “$#@!” An expletive escapes my mouth… (Yes, that is the expletive appropriate for this particular occasion.)
Even though I’m thoroughly disgusted and my hands are a poopy mess, I have to laugh. I have a smart dog. One that’s smart enough not to retrieve a dung covered ball, even when I’m not.
Yes, I managed to get myself and both balls thoroughly disinfected and we finished our game of “Fetch.” After all, my Java is born to retrieve.
I guess my life could be a lot worse. I could have one of those dogs that actively hunts out treats like Raccoon Roca, Kitty litter biscuits and the crème’ de la crème, Other dogs’ feces. I’m happy with the crew I’ve got.
Life with a Labrador is never boring…. but sometimes it really stinks, I wouldn’t trade it for anything…. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
Until next time, drink a green beer for me.
Kerri –The Alpha Dogs’ Wife
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