Saturday, March 3, 2012

Back Story: Attitude

You're walking your dog. Maybe it's on President or Meadow. Maybe it's Spillan. Your dog is walking fine. The leash is loose; he's staying by your side, head up in the air, strutting proudly. You turn onto Allen. Across the street, you spot me and my dog. Her nose is to the ground. She's weaving left and right; stops to smell a bush, a tree, a telephone pole.

Huh! you think. Look at that unruly dog. Huh! your dog snorts, exuding attitude. You smile at me, as if to say, "I understand." Your dog pretends to ignore us.

My dog looks up. She bristles at the sight of you and your dog. The hair on her back is up. She pulls in your direction, snarling and barking. "What are you looking at?" she says. It's over in a few seconds as I pull her away and she trots by my side toward the Antioch golf course.

You may think your dog is something. But you've never seen my dog catch a Frisbee. First thing every morning and at least three or four more times every day, rain, snow or shine, she drags me out into the backyard where her five disks are waiting. She catches about 100 Frisbees-a-day. And if you want to see attitude, you've got to see this.

When we use all five Frisbees, she plays outfield like Willie Mays. She has learned how to soft-catch, by circling behind the disk and catching it from behind. She leaps with a flourish, making it look like a difficult catch when it is not - showboating. She's like a wide-receiver, snagging one gracefully and stepping over the goal line. She shows me she's got possession just long enough to get a positive ruling, then she drops it and positions herself for the next toss. Five in a row and then she heels me all the way around the yard as I pick them up and we get ready to start again.

When we play with one Frisbee, she starts in my face and backs away anticipating the throw. As I cock my arm to make the toss, she turns and takes off ahead of it. It comes in over her head and she snags it from behind. She knows intuitively where it is. It's like she has eyes in the back of her head. She flips it over in her mouth, so it is upside down and easier to carry, then brings it back like a platypus and drops it at my feet.

When I think I have worn her out, I take her inside. But, back in the house, she gets her ball and taps me on the leg with it as I try to work at my computer. If I ignore her, she barks. She will not be snubbed. I take the ball and fake left and right as she backs away, her eyes never leaving the ball. I shoot it hard. It is barely out of my hand before she has it like a hockey goalie. It seems like milliseconds.

I turn back to my work. I feel the tap on my leg. I look down. She's there with the ball, giving me the stare. "Go ahead, give it your best shot!"



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