By Catherine Bozzone, student, Center for Distance Learning
February 28, 2011
(Catherine dedicates this story to her husband, who died Feb. 9 of last year; he and Brando were such great buddies!)
He makes me laugh and he brightens my day. He is Brando – 14 pounds of fun in the form of a sleek well-muscled, black and tan miniature dachshund. But don’t let his size fool you – he is not an annoyingly yappy, frightened little dog – he is lovable, smart and courageous. As a puppy, he once leapt from a three-inch-high platform with the dramatic flair of Houdini and was visibly pleased by his accomplishment. In a year and a half on this planet, Brando has lived up to his name in toughness, but also as a lover. He has yet to meet a person or creature he won’t greet enthusiastically. Yet there are moments when he seems so serious, sitting motionless with liquid-eyes blinking thoughtfully, looking like a judge in a shiny-black robe about to render some critical decision.
There is one activity that Brando loves more than eating, sleeping or even getting a good belly rub – fetching toys! He loves this game even more than destroying the toys, which he has done often and with more gusto than a starving tiger slaying an unfortunate gazelle – and in less time. Brando is relentless in his pursuit of FUN! A ball thrown high in the air, across the yard, from one room to another, up or down the stairs, all cause an immediate and urgent pursuit. He dashes at top speed to catch it, nails clattering on the floor as he maneuvers, his paws embossing the carpet as he tries to leverage greater speed. He then brings the treasure back, drops it at your feet, turns with an excited full-spin (how does he pivot his front paws on the carpet that way?) and waits, muscles tense and ready to do it all over again (and again, and again…).
This MVP of the doggie world has the grace of Muhammad Ali, the precision of Tiger Woods and the endurance of Lance Armstrong. Call it “Extreme Fetching,” worthy of its own Saturday afternoon time slot on TV. Brando does anything to get objects up in the air and flying. He is a politician, using physical rhetoric to get what he wants. First, the ball (toy, chewy or whatnot) is placed at your feet; Brando prances in front of you excitedly, looking up at you and then looking at the ball, at you again and then at the ball. If you are not paying attention, he will jump up and put the ball on a chair (couch, bed or wherever). If it takes more convincing, the ball will land on your lap (chest, face or whatever). Imagine lying on your back doing floor exercises and feeling a slobbery toy being gently, yet playfully placed in the palm of your hand. Now that is perseverance.
I’m sure, however, that my brilliant pup thinks that we humans are somewhat dim-witted, evidenced by our refusal to be as captivated with fetching as he is. “Don’t Cathy and Jimmy see that I just dropped my toy in front of them? Why doesn’t one of them throw it? Why are they just sitting there? Oh please, please, PLEASE throw my toy! Don’t you see how much I want to chase it? Look at how cute I am!” This brings to mind my certainty that there is a doggie secret-society that teaches a course in cuteness. How else could our canines know exactly how to pull the strings of our hearts so effectively? “Tilt your head slightly to one side and look directly into your human’s eyes, raising your ears in an alert way. Your human will respond positively to this signal.”
Speaking of ears – those long, soft and floppy ones of his that seem to swivel in any direction, also indicate what he is feeling and thinking. They are flat to his head when he greets me at the door; this is his emotion indicator and lets me know he is as excited to see me as I am to see him, my husband and my home. Emotions spill over as we all greet each other. Joy flows like water, covering everything around us, making the world a bit more precious, much friendlier, and a lot more fun…