Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Birthday Dickens

Dickens is two years old today. The mature--and almost contemplative--dog pictured here is a far cry from the lean, dingo-wild puppy that first arrived here, jumping on the bed and chewing up the furniture. Some sort of miracle occurred lately, and he now knows the meaning of the second word in "Golden Retriever." He not only brings the ball back, he drops it when I tell him to. I can call him from across the yard--sometimes from out of sight--and he'll come running, park himself next to me, and lean on my leg. There's a lot of dog to lean, too, since he's still right around 100 pounds, all of it meat and muscle.

The essence of the change in his attitude toward me is that I have, in the words of the people who taught me about dogs, become relevant to him, more relevant than the ball, or the dogs next door, or cats. He also seems to have decided that going with the flow is easier and more fun than swimming against it.

Even Daisy is more comfortable around him. They don't play like they used to--he moves way too fast for her, and her eyesight and hearing are dimming--but the other morning I got out of bed and found them both lying next to each other, back-to-back, sound asleep. And now that I can put Dickens on a down-stay and leave him there, Daisy is chasing the ball again, hopping through the grass, her tail flying, without fear that Dickens will swoop in and grab it from her.

Someone told me I'd miss the puppy in Dickens when he got older. At the time I didn't think so, but now that I see him growing up, and getting smarter--very smart about some things--I think I may indeed come to miss the puppyness. Still, I'm very glad to see the adult Dickens starting to blossom.