My dog is a golden retriever. I thought that meant she’d be good at retrieving things, but she’s not. She loves catching, but things usually drop first or bounce before she gets them. Occasionally she’ll catch a Frisbee in the air and we clap and congratulate her as she trots back to us with a BIG SMILE.
Ginger: [Pant, pant, pant] Did you see that catch! Did you see it? I can die happy now! That was a great catch! I love you Alpha Mom. You’re the best. Throw it to me again! Come on! Don’t tease me! [Pant, pant, pant; smile, grin, raise her eyelids in question] Did you see that last catch! That was great, wasn’t it? [Pant, pant, pant]
So I throw the ball again…and my dog lays down at my feet.
Ginger: On second thought, I’m tired. [Pant, pant, pant] I chased 3 flying things and that was hard. [Pant, pant, pant] I love you Alpha Mom. Your feet smell good…almost as good as poop…but not quite.
The thing about Ginger that baffles me is how her whole temperament changes when we go on a walk. She’s usually so docile and lazy. If you’ve watched that Chevy Chase movie with Yellow Dog in it, Ginger’s like that. She poops out easily (both ways—in the yard and also from physical exertion).
But when I take her on a walk—she becomes SUPER SLED DOG—Balto the crazy, hyper dog. I just want to walk—but Ginger has other ideas.
Ginger: Come on! Faster, faster! Here! I’ll help you. Just hold onto this rope and I’ll pull you to our destination. I know where you want to go. We go there all the time: either the grassy park that smells like poop…or the canal trail that smells like poop, or the next neighborhood that smells like pop…I mean poop!
Most people look like they’re in control of their dogs when I pass them. They make me jealous…because I don’t look like that. Ginger’s in control of me…and pulls me along at a breathtaking pace as I try to ACT like I’m in charge by yelling out when we pass people…”Mush! Mush! Get along little doggie!”
Ginger the Sled Dog thinks we’re training for the Iditarod; I’ve tried to train the sled dog out of her by pulling on her leash and saying, “Ginger! You’re blond! You’re not a Husky! Calm down, girl! It’s all right to be blond! Don’t listen to the jokes people say about us! They’re not true! You can change a lightbulb all by yourself…and I know you get jokes the first time I tell them. You laugh right on cue! You don’t have to act like Balto!”
But it doesn’t make any difference. She still thinks she’s an Alaskan Husky. They say dogs are color blind…so maybe she thinks her pretty blond coat is really black and gray. She sees herself differently than I see her…and maybe that’s a good thing. It keeps her young…and pulling like a sled dog, instead of moaning about her bad hip.
Next time we go for a walk, I think I’ll call her Balto–just to give her a thrill! She deserves it for pulling me along in life…leading the way through the twisty maze of my neighborhood and keeping me safe from ducks, geese and the occasional demon cat who stalks us and hisses as we pass it. I hate that cat…and I know Ginger has kept it from tearing my eyeballs from my head. So I guess I can humor my dog and let her continue to believe she’s a sled dog! Mush, mush!