adventures of beck

Saturday, October 21, 2006

He's actually a dog.

When I say that Kayak is mellow, I'm understating. There have actually been times that neighbors have inquired about his health as he lies motionless on the front lawn. We invariably check his health status with an over-the-shoulder "Hey, Kayak, you alive?" He signals his good health with a tail thump or an ear twitch. If he's feeling really frisky, he'll lift his head, and fix his brown eyes on you with a look that says "can't a dog dream about rabbits in peace?"

In any case, it was obvious from the start that Kayak did not have a happy or normal upbringing, or in the very least he had been fending for himself for at least a year. Although we appreciated the ease of handling him (he can be flipped and turned in any direction, picked up, bathed, teeth brushed, put in any car, be with anyone of any age, in any crowd, in any house etc etc) and his general good behavior, we knew that it wasn't normal. The way he related to other dogs was the most telling part of his social miscueing. He routinely got into/started fights. He never exhibited any play behavior- no chasing, no leaping, no play bows. He also had absolutely no interest in objects, whether they were presented by humans or dogs. His sole play behavior was to throw his bone in the air and pounce on it, and it was during these rare moments of solo play that a look crossed his face that could only be described as distinctly joyous. Pizza and other people food could produce a similar look. Rabbits remained the only stimulus that could excite Kayak into a full blown sprint. Kayak also never got into any trouble. He never ripped anything up or chewed something he shouldn't. He never stole food or got into the trash. He never jumped on strangers or chased the cats. He didn't bark at the door or in the car. He could only be urged into frantic tail wagging by a carefully cultivated question: "Do you wanna go outside!!!????" He lived for walks, and for smelling, and for snuggling. But he did little else.

Enter Sonar. Call her what you will (and I do...) but she has changed Kayak's entire demeanor. This sort of thing will happen when a small black puppy jumps on your head and bites your ears. Oddly, though, Kayak is a happier dog. The changes started slowly, with him occasionally giving in to her constant annoying behavior. He would get angry, and bark, and growl, and briefly chase her. She was completely unfazed by his temper (thank God she isn't a shy puppy) and she acted as though this was exactly what she wanted. We were worried that she would drive him insane. But about this time, we also discovered the local 48-acre off-leash dog park. Gradually, she taught him to chase her. Then to tackle each other. Now they work as a team, chasing and tackling other dogs. Naturally, this isn't always popular, so we try to rein them in if other dogs don't like rough and tumble play.

Then, the really weird antics started. I came home from work to find the trash can in the kitchen had vomited its contents across the kitchen. Since Sonar was in her crate, there was only one suspect. Next, he stole a bag of jellybeans in the car, ripped a hole in the bag, and began consuming them. He shredded several pieces of paper and packages in the car. Early on, when Sonar came, Kayak began guarding the yard and the house. He barked. He barked? He barked!

Just last week, their relationship came full circle. Sonar was trotting past the couch, and Kayak suddenly lept from the couch, landing near her in play bow. He started barking and mouthing at her. Sonar was as shocked as we were. Since that day, Kayak's play behavior has exploded. He has been busted playing with a ball, fetching sticks occasionally at the dog park, finding his own sticks at the dog park, chasing other dogs, and rolling on top of Sonar on the floor. He is truly a whole new dog. He has also been working on his jumping ability, and both he and Sonar can jump through the open driver's side window of the van. This is a skill they will need when I'm training them to be the next Rin-Tin-Tins. Kayak will be the devoted, well behaved dog. Sonar will be the running stunt double. I'm not sure which one's fur we'll have to dye.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No pictures ??!!

ma kettle

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