CP, my new spaniel mix from the puppy pound, is suffering from complete sensory overload. This morning I took the risk of letting CP off the leash and into his Brave New World on the farm. He responded by putting his nose to the ground and disappearing over the rise by the pond, where he immediately answered the lingering question, "Will CP dive right into that cold pond to try and catch the geese?"
Indeed, he not only dove, he catapaulted into the pond, an instinctual behavior that surprised CP much more than it surprised me. To my knowledge, CP (short for Cutie Patootie, which is so not macho) has never been in a pond before and my guess is these are also his first geese. But he landed in the pond as if shot out of a cannon and immediately began paddling madly in hot pursuit. The geese swam to the center of the pond where they circled with swan-like insouciance, as if to say, "Puh-leeze, oh Furry One, we can make lazy circles here until you just go under."
To his credit, CP had the sense to turn back and pursue other, drier adventures. My friends Ken and Nancy, who own the farm, said a visitor's golden retriever nearly killed himself a few months ago as the geese led him round in circles and he refused to give up on the idea of their capture. Beware a dog on a mission.
CP was on a mission this morning, that's for sure. The problem was, he couldn't decide which mission. Was it the Catch the Geese mission, or the Omigod, Turkeys! mission? The I Bet I Could Take that Goat mission, or maybe the Found Something Stinky and I’m-a-Gonna Roll In It mission. So he tried to do all of them at once and ended up zigging back and forth between the pond, the hen house and the goat pens in a frantic display of failed canine multi-tasking. (He looked like I frequently feel at work, as a matter of fact.) I finally pulled him back to the house before his little doggie brain went completely fzzzzttttttt. But man, did he look happy.
On the other hand, Bob Dog already has made peace with the fact that chickens and goats happen and, though there is something he could do about it, he simply must not. Thoroughly chastised the first couple of times he chased the chickens, he has remained poultry-averse since. As for the pygmy goats, he helped birth them babies (another story for another day) and thinks of them as odd-smelling puppies who play un-interesting games. Climb-the-haystack, for instance, is infinitely amusing for small goats, not so fun for elderly schnauzer-y types.
Bob is content to hang with the farm's other two geriatric dogs, Tucker and Frank the Floppy Farm Dog, both deaf and a bit slow on the uptake. Bob is mostly blind now, but among them they have a full set of faculties -- the blind leading the what? -- and they move at roughly the same pace, a sedate counterbalance to CP's turbocharged squirreliness.
I’m almost as happy to have the dogs back on this farm as the dogs are to be here. I love watching them trot along investigating a world that requires very little caution. Dangers lurk here, of course, but they pale in comparison with the sheer number of threats in the city.
Certain behaviors will have to change. For instance, the jump-on-the-bed-and-cuddle-the-human part of the program. If you’ve ever smelled a dog dampened with pond scum, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Just before I left the house for work this morning, CP scratched on my screen door to be let in, and I felt a momentary sense of relief. My other country friends were right. He has learned to come back to the house. I immediately realized that his return was a vastly mixed blessing as I looked closer at his blond coat and wondered what that stuff was on his side.
The aromatic answer came quickly.
"You know, dude," I said to him as I gave him a quick scrub before heading off to work. "Goose poo is not the best color on you."
He just wagged and looked joyful. He loves the Goose Poo mission.