Friday, March 5, 2010

Lingering on ...

They say dogs have the ability to see and sense things that we humans are unable to detect.  Joe, our resident Rottie has on a couple of rare occasions demonstrated behaviour that I thought quite peculiar.  The sort that had I allowed myself to be freaked would make my hair stand!  But you see, even if I seem accept that there is a spirit world out there - am not the superstitious sort nor am I easily frightened by stories of hauntings and expect to see ghosts.  But there was once or twice in our usual frenetic game of 'Snatch Fetch', as the day grew darker and the shadows longer, Joe actually froze, drop his toy and stared at a darkening canopy of bamboos - once, I remembered he growled.

I was wary but saw nothing of course.A Rotweiller's growl is not to be taken lightly.   I thought his behaviour was a little odd - especially when he can never seem to get enough of his game of 'Fetch' and even when his not playing he would guard his toy like his life depended on it (a typical Rottie trait am told). To drop his toy in mid-play and stare into distance was definitely  out of the ordinary.

I never really gave that odd but rare behaviour much thought until I recently  read Dean Koontz account of  his own dog, interestingly called Trixie in his book 'A Big Little Life - a memoir of a joyful dog' who once demonstrated behaviour that he (not a believe in ghost nor expect to see one either) could only surmise as Trixie happily accompanying her 'invisible tall friend' (she kept peering up and wagging her tail) a tour of the house.

A few days ago on our usual evening romp, Joe was oddly not into his game of 'Fetch'.  He would usually pick his toy and carry it with him eager to begin his game but that evening he left them laying idle. Instead he behaved as if he was looking for 'something' - chasing down a scent and occasionally taking moments to stare into the darkened distance.

I read Joe's body language quite easily (as he does mine).  He understands simple English - so I've observed. Apart from the usual obedience command like 'Sit', 'Stay', 'Come', 'Heel', Joe knows to go looking when I ask him where his toy is.  He seems to be able to remember where he's last left his toy. He'd also know how to get me to get his toy for him if it's beyond his reach -  usually too out of my leveled sight.  He looks at me eagerly, runs to a spot and looks pointedly.  And if am a little preoccupied pottering about, he does a little jig,  goes 'Wooah!' (a bark that's indicative of wanting),  looks at me and stares again pointedly at a spot as if to say 'Here! here! I know you can't see it yet but it's here!'.  It could be under something somewhere (a drain, his cage, under the car), up in some tree's branches (god knows how his toy got up there ...I blame it on the squirrels!).  He would not leave the spot until I get down (sometimes into a dirty drain) or climb to investigate.  And almost always Joe is spot on about where his 'lost' toy is.  So on my hands and knees, equipped with a long stick, I strain to retrieve his toy.

The things I do for that dog!   But just to see his glee when I finally hand him toy for him is reward enough.

That evening, I could only guess that he was looking for Trixie and he somehow 'found' her at her usual spot she would stake when I'd tell them both to 'Take a break (from their frantic game of 'Snatch-Fetch') and grab a drink'.  It was almost a daily routine where they would both trot to that one particular garden hose where I'd give them both a drink.  Joe would almost always sit patiently on the right of the garden hose near the potted plants and Trixie would stand or lay panting on the grass to my left while they wait for their turn to be watered and showered down.

Joe for some reason that evening without his usual game, soon lead the way to that particular garden hose.  I took that as him wanting a drink and a shower.  But instead of sitting patiently, he stood and stared pointedly to the spot where Trixie would always lay panting when she was alive.  When I said, 'Are you looking for Trixie?  Where has she gone?'.  He looked at me and looked back at that spot,  as if to tell me 'Look! There she is!' and watched with interest for a while, oblivious to the running water and my mutterings about missing Trixie.

Maybe Trixie's spirit still lingers on and in her cheeky self she got Joe to go seeking after her (like she usually do when she successfully snatches his toy ... she'd make him chase her - sniffing and seeking about Dog Woods) and almost always their game would end at that one particular garden hose where she would finally relinquish the toy for a drink and shower while Joe would make a quick grab for toy.

It's just a hypothesis.  I don't know for sure.

But after that moment by the garden hose, Joe shook the water out of his fur, surveyed his surroundings and trotted off to pick up his toy where he had last left it eager to start a game of 'Fetch'.