I looked forward to seeing Terry and Blade this evening. It was about 5:15 and the October 26th weather was holding. It’s been a wonderful, pleasant month. So was September. After the brutal Surprise, Arizona summer, we were enjoying the change.
Terry told me yesterday that he now had to park the car to the east and toss the ball for Blade to fetch. Blade is his “going-on-seventeen-year-old scruffy-looking pure-bred Australian Sheepdog.” That’s her normal lovable appearance. With all that coat rolling as she chases after the ball she is doing very well for her age.
She has some trouble seeing, and when Terry threw the ball to the west, the almost setting sun bothered her vision, and she couldn’t see the ball.
So, Terry now tosses the ball to the east. That’s the sort of thing a good dog owner does to protect his dog from enlivenment factors… just like protecting their feet by not walking dogs on the sizzling hot pavement in the summer.
Terry uses a ‘Chuckit’ device to fling the tennis ball for Blade to run after it.
” Blade gets a lot more exercise than I do when I use this handy thing,” he remarked.
I’ve seen him use it for a few days and wondered if Bernie and Chris would chase the ball. He handed it to me, and I tried it.
Naturally, I ended up walking after the ball. There were a couple of things I did wrong. First, Bernie and Chris enjoy playing with each other. If I were going to try and teach them to chase a ball, I’d have to separate them. When they are together, there is just too much distraction.
Also, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t going to be successful. I asked Terry how long he and Blade had been playing this game.
“Oh, more than fifteen years. I got Blade when she was just two, and one day I tossed the ball, and she chased it and brought it back. I gave her a treat, and she’s been doing it ever since. She’s a herder breed, you know.”
That bit of information flattened my desire. I’ve tossed stuff to Bernie in the past. He’s eager for the first few times. Then he gets bored, and I end up walking to whatever I tossed, picking it up and that’s the end of that game.
Chris? He will chase just about anything. But somewhere during the chase, he loses concentration and turns away. When it comes to treats… that’s another story. Chris turns up his nose at more than ninety-five percent of the treats. And he isn’t even consistent. One day he might eat a treat, but another time he will turn his head aside and walk away.
The only things he will accept are cheese and peanut butter. Of course, Bernie is a garbage gut and will eat everything… all the time. Although I feed the same amount of food in their bowls, Chris will eat what he wants and leave the rest.
Bernie patiently waits until Chris is through and leaves his bowl. Bernie strolls in and licks until Chris’s bowl has a mirror finish.
Terry shared some of his histories. They lived in Washington State most of his life and sold their ‘place’ (had about ten wooded acres) six years ago and moved to Sun City West in Surprise. However, the family still has the land, and they journey back there in May and return here in September. A smart move that allows them to enjoy the pleasant Arizona winter and beat the miserable Arizona summer’s heat.
“This place has changed in the last six years,” he explained as he flung his arms wide, turning around. “All this was vacant land, and the coyotes owned it. Rabbits were their main diet. It got so bad that sometimes the coyotes would wander around the stores in the little mall right over there.” He pointed.
“When I got here, that was a vacant lot. I drove my car in a straight line about a hundred feet and parked. Blade and I would exercise there. We did that twice a day, and before long, that single patch was worn down to a dirt road. I called it my private drive.”
As we chatted, Blade was chasing the ball, and Bernie and Chris were sometimes chasing her and other times chasing each other.
Terry said that Blade guards her ball. If any dog tries to get it away from her, Blade will let him know.
We both watched as Chris, always playful and not aware that all dogs are not like Bernie, started teasing Blade… trying to get the ball from her mouth.
It took a couple of warnings before Chris realized that Blade wasn’t in a playful mood. No harm, no foul. Terry knows his dog’s temperament very well, and I know Chris has to learn boundaries.
One thing was consistent. Every time Blade returned the ball; she got a treat. Terry carries a bag of baby carrots. He bites one in two and hand feeds Blade.
Bernie and Chris watched and quickly wanted a treat. They sat…more or less patiently… while Terry fed them.
Bernie will get his, but you can see it’s a struggle to be patient.
Before long, the sun set and both of us got back in our cars and went home.