Monday, April 20, 2009

Passionate fetch

I have a dachshund. Like a light switch, he is either on: infinitely active, playful and destructive (mostly destructive), or off: asleep on the couch. All of his 13-month lifespan has been spent in one of these two states. Simply put, Gorman doesn't half-ass anything. He's either all in or all out.

And when he's all in, fetch is where it's at. If you're hanging around and he wants to play fetch, there is no acceptable excuse not to. A toy will be set near your feet. You will notice it, because a barking dachshund quickly draws your attention.

But then he makes sure you're all in too. If you make a weak effort to pick up the toy, he'll pick it up before you get to it. Absolutely no inferior effort will be tolerated. If you're making a pedestrian effort to get the toy, he'll take it and work on destroying it somewhere else. Then, he'll give you a moment and come back to see if you've learned your lesson. If you're quicker this time, you might get the toy, assuming, of course, you can win the tug of war for it and escape with your fingers in tact.

Suddenly, you are the center of Gorman's world. He will watch you until the first time you fake a throw. Then, he'll turn and watch intently in the direction the toy will eventually fly, like you're showing a fascinating movie on the wall across the room. Finally, the toy takes flight and Gorman is off with lightning speed, cruising around the corner into the kitchen and sliding across the tiles. With luck, the toy stopped harmlessly in the middle of the floor and is accessible. If it landed on a counter or in a cupboard, Gorman will inform you of that by whining and barking incessantly until the errant throw has been retrieved. If you forgot to close the pantry before playing fetch the target might be buried in there, but rest assured, Gorman will guide you to it.

The game can continue for hours, in fact it will, because you'll get barked at again if you're trying to stop. A few lame throws, though, can end the game quickly. Eventually, you'll make a weak effort and Gorman will just stare at you, like an enthusiastic lover who can't understand why you're just not that into it. Then it's back to the couch, to wait for someone more interesting to come home.

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