Saturday, May 09, 2009

A Fetching Chase Scene

Playing fetch with a dog can be a very satisfying experience. You send some object off and it is cheerfully returned to you. It's a lovely, complete circuit.

I can't say that I've had the satisfaction of that completed circuit when it comes to receiving Kirby's DNA test results... Yes, I had the test kit for a couple of months before actually doing the test and sending it off, but now that it's done, I'm in a big hurry for the postman to fetch me the results. I haven't been this interested in getting the mail since I was in college, hoping for a parental check or a box of cookies.

On the subjects of DNA and fetching...I think we've pretty much confirmed that Kirby has at least some collie blood: sheltie, border collie, Australian Shepherd, something along those lines. As I've reported from our previous beach trips, Kirby is a natural born fetcher. Add to that his keen ability to herd us as we stroll down the beach, and I think we can be pretty sure of at least one bloodline on the DNA test. Kirby may have some definite terrier traits, but I've never met a terrier who would herd and fetch right out of the box. Kirby's eyes light up at the prospect of chasing a stick and his execution is near perfect...the stick is thrown, he makes a beeline for it (no stopping to smell jellyfish or roll on dead birds), he grabs the stick, turns on a dime and brings it immediately back to drop it at your feet. Kirby will do this over and over and over with the same gusto each time.

We made another trip to the beach this past week, where Baxter did his usual "take the stick and run off to chew it to sawdust" version of "fetch." Kirby, in the meantime, was doing a superb job of demonstrating his keen retrieving ability. Perhaps it was Kirby's success at pleasing the alphas with his fetching prowess. Or perhaps Baxter just had a wild hair. But all of a sudden Bax decided it was time to steal the stick away from Kirby before he had a chance to bring it back to us. What ensued was a chase scene that brought to mind a combination of Buster Keaton, barrel racing and Wild Kingdom.

Kirby realized that Baxter was gaining on him. He darted left, darted right, ran around us, between us, around us again with Baxter in hot pursuit. I have to say, for a 10 year old dog, Baxter was doing a spectacular job of keeping up with a dog 1/3 his age and his size. But every time Bax was just about to get his jaws on the stick, Kirby would escape by mere centimeters. After about a dozen laps Bax finally gave up and Kirby brought the stick back to us for more. By this time the two had attracted a smiling audience.
So we threw the stick again and the whole thing happened a second time. This time it ended in a dog tug of war and the whole fetching mood evaporated as the two of them finally decided it was a draw, dropped the stick and stood there panting and looking at us as if to say "now what?"

Next time I'm bringing the video camera...

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