I can hardly believe it, but I’m having to backtrack on a bold declaration made in a previous column. Early this year I declared full of certainty that while Jas the puppy could bark and jump and beg, she would never, ever make me play. I backed up this emphatic statement by saying that I’m 13 years old, which puts me in my 70s in dog years, well past the time of playing just for fun.
Obviously I jump up and down with excitement when it’s food time, when my boss gets home, when my boss takes me for a walk or when I find her in the garden. But these situations don’t qualify as playing.
Playing is what Jas the puppy does. It involves jumping, spinning and dancing for no reason whatsoever. Why, I used to wonder, does Jas think dropping into what you humans call the ‘soliciting play’ position will make me play? Just in case you’re not clear, soliciting play when done by dogs involves poking the front legs forward, dropping the chest on the ground (which happens when the front legs are thrust forward) and poking one’s backside in the air
This ingratiating position also involves vigorous tail wagging, although this barely rates a mention as vigorous tail wagging is automatic for dogs when we’re pleased. On the odd occasion I’ve felt pleased and have tried not to wag my tail, it’s been an epic fail. That tail of mine has a mind of its own.
Anyway, on the fated day when I played for no reason whatsoever, I’d followed my boss Rae into the paddock when she went to give the horse a snack. Already, I was acting strangely because I often only follow her part way to the horse.
You can’t kid me that this counts as a walk. A walk is when she devotes her attention to me and I follow her. Walks are mostly along the beach and moving bulls. They used to include paddocks, but I’m now suspicious when she goes into the big paddock by the house because she might just be going to visit or catch the horse. Last week, I was suspicious as usual, then I realised my boss was off to gather mushrooms. I had to run to catch up.
Anyway, on this day she’d fed the horse and was walking home when this unearthly desire to play overcame me. It was as if I’d been taken over by the character of Jas the puppy who was standing nearby. I jumped, I lunged, I spun around and I dropped into that ingratiating solicit play position and begged my boss to play. She grinned and I thought she was going to laugh at me but she jumped and frisked and lunged and ruffled by furry neck and together we played in the paddock. Golly, it was fun.
For once Jas didn’t play at all. This silly and thrilling moment was just for me and my boss. Then the feeling passed and even though my boss patted me on the head and told me she loved me, it hasn’t happened since.
It was, I’ve decided, a moment that may never be repeated. Note my use of the word ‘may’. Once I’d have said never but now I’ve learned never to say never. Oh, perhaps I’ll amend that because I know myself too well – I’ve learned almost never to say never.
Your friend, Floss.