This week is our annual vacation trip up to Silver Lake...
Blogger isn't great with video, so this is the best I could do in converting the original, much larger video of this photo sequence.
(Photo credit: Donna Tippy)
Fetching is the epitome of an action done for its own sake, an undertaking whose entire point is the process itself. The dog doesn’t bring back the ball and then wait to see what will happen. He doesn’t bring it back and then take a coffee break. Once you pick it up, he takes a few careful steps out ahead, waiting for you to throw it, and hoping you will so he can enter into the process again.
A dog takes simultaneous joy in motion, in connection with you over an activity that he’s absolutely sure you want him to do.
Then you can toss something Comet likes but Gus cares a lot less about (Gus will prioritize tennis balls over anything else, including treats, things with squeakers, live birds, anything). Then Comet gets to bring this squeaky bumper thing and Gus gets the ball. It’s a nice arrangement for the dogs, but a little complex and wet for the thrower.
As you saw in the video, though, sometimes Comet does get the ball.
(Photo credit: Donna Tippy)
Once I got off the mountain safely, I headed down to New Haven and climbed in a car with Andy and the dogs, and we headed up to New Hampshire to spend the week with my parents at the cabin they’ve rented almost every summer for the past quarter-century. It’s a place with lots of memories for me, and it situated on a gorgeous lake in easy striking distance to the tax-free outlet towns of New Hampshire.
The dogs like it even better than we do. It’s Comet’s first time up, but he took to it just as fast as Gus has during his times here. They swim every day, and they never pass up the opportunity to scratch their itchy, wet backs in the grass after a good romp in the water.
Comet’s just as handsome wet as he is dry, and wet he was, at every opportunity. In fact, the first night we arrived, it was rather late, and it was as dark as only a rural location really gets. As Andy and I brought bags around the side of the house in the dark so we could go in the back door without waking my folks, we heard a huge splash.
We immediately assumed Gus, who had been here several times, couldn’t restrain himself and jumped in, and we threw whispered chides into the dark, “No! Gus! Get over here! Bad Dog!”
Once we got in and turned the light on, however, we realized that it was Comet who was soaked. There’s no way to be sure what happened, but I can only assume he ran out onto the short, narrow dock with Gus and didn’t realize where he was. He must have been one surprised little dog. Well, not so little, I guess.
Rolling is quite an energetic activity for these guys. They go through quite an amazing series of contortions as they try to get exactly the right surface (dirt, grass, gravel) into exactly the right spot (back, shoulders, haunch).
The result is a dirty, satisfied dog.
(Or, the Difficulties in Photographing a Golden Retriever)
I've been sitting, sipping coffee, and chatting with my friend Kevin, who's currently expatriated in Paris so he can work on a memoir and a novel. Kevin's in Paris and my coffee is cold. Theoretically, this my time to catch up on some grading, since I didn't get much done over spring break, but I'm obviously not getting that done just now.
I'm jealous of Kevin; certainly, I'm jealous that he gets to live in Paris and be fabulous and write as his full time occupation. But more I'm jealous that he's found a way to organize his life in a way that lets him write. And I realized that the only difference between a Writer and a Writer's Cramp is that the Writer Writes.
I was congratulating myself for snapping a picture of Gus that makes him look handsome and distinguished. He's getting older, four now, and the white fur is starting to come in around his eyes and muzzle. He's also got that wonderfully pensive look that's characteristic of some Goldens, but tends to disappear when you actually move to take the picture, since any motion on the part of the master results in the hopeful, ears-perked, is-there-some-chance-the-sun-will-come-back-out-even-though-it's-after-10PM-and-we'll-go-and-play-fetch-at-the park-oh-god-oh-please-if-I-just-want-it-bad-enough-can't-it-happen? look.
Anyhow, as I was busy congratulating myself on taking such a nice picture,I realized that the reason Gus looks so wonderfully pensive and introspective is that he has stuck his tongue into his nose to clean it. Introspective indeed.
Of course, sometimes you wake up and find out it's one of those perfect days and the camera, despite the inherent loss of experience that comes with the attempt to crystallize a fraction of a moment, catches what was soul-refreshing about the day or the dog:
Silver Lake; Madison, New Hampshire; August 2005. Photo credit: Donna Tippy