November 30, 2021

Ah! There’s a good stick!


Everyone thinks they have the best dog. And none of them are wrong.

-W. R. Purche


Waldo is a little over three years old and we’ve been together for almost three years.  During the time I’ve known him, I’ve seen him mature, learn how to cope with his environment and calm down.  He learned that he needs to stop when he comes to a street crossing and wait until I say, “Okay,” before he crosses.  It has happened that he doesn’t cross the street, despite my giving him the go-ahead, because he sees a car coming that I don’t see.  Border collies are well known for their energy, and Waldo is certainly no exception.  Although he still runs around in tight circles while he’s waiting for me to get ready to take him out (I don’t understand how he does that without falling due to a complete loss of balance and then puking!), he’s not as frenetic about it.  As a puppy, on the rare occasions when he would jerk the leash out of my hand, the retractable handle would wind the thing up and bang on the ground as it trailed after him, and he would be gone and out of sight (like that time in Hudson when I had to chase him down the road in the heat).  Now, when this happens, without cue from me, he stops and turns to look at me as if thinking, “What?  I didn’t do nothin’!”  He even sits, sometimes, until I walk up and grab my end of the tether.

Border collies are well known for being focused.  Most of the time, Waldo’s attention is fully consumed by whatever is driving him at the moment.  It might be a rabbit he’s spotted and he stops dead still, nose stuck out in front, head a little lowered, unblinking and staring at it.  It might be a stick he sees that appeals, most of them do in varying degrees, and he lunges for it, apparently thinking that if he doesn’t act fast, it will get away.  It might be that he is concentrating on moving forward, down the path, at a pace always faster than mine, as if all that matters is getting to the end of the trail.  Whatever it is that consumes him in the moment, it really consumes him – it’s like the rest of the world doesn’t exist.  In the past, when he was a puppy, that was almost impossible to break into.  Now, with a little encouragement, he will “Leave it alone,” or “Come,” or “Go this way.”

This border-collieness might seem a bit disheartening for some.  He may seem somewhat less affectionate than other dogs, like a golden retriever, for example.  Golden retrievers often nudge your arm, looking for a little attention, or come up and put their nose on your thigh, seeking a pat and a scratch.  Waldo will do that in the car, but it’s more because he’s nervous, doesn’t like to be in the car, and is looking for assurance and maybe some anxiety relief.  In other places, he’s off on his own, entertaining himself, except on those occasions when he wants to play.  He seems to be perfectly happy in his own company.

I really like that about Waldo.  It allows me to be content in my own company.  While Waldo is out on the balcony, keeping watch on his realm, I’m inside on my recliner, writing, reading, or watching television.  When we’re walking, Waldo is out doing his Waldo thing, leaving me to listen to the wind, photograph unfamiliar plants and smell the roses.  If one of us wants to play, we approach the other and we’re off pursuing a game of Waldo-stick, or tug-of-war.  That lasts for a bit, then we’re back in our own worlds again.  If I feel like I want a little doggy affection, I go up to him, give him a hug, talk to him lovingly and give him a scratch or two.  He responds with a wagging tail; he leans into me and maybe nibbles at my clothes.  That done, we’re off on our own again.

I couldn’t ask for a better companion.  He’s there when I want him and off on his own when I need me-time.  I’m there for him when he needs me and I leave him alone to be Waldo the rest of the time.

It took a while for our rhythms to synchronize, but we are now in resonance.  All it took was patience, close observation of each other and an interest in learning from the other what they needed and desired.  Now, Waldo truly is the best dog.



Come on! Get a move on, would ya!

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