Thursday, December 16, 2010

Old dog, new trick: Frozen mud puddles

Weather permitting, about three times a week Ben and I walk with our friends The M’s and their dog Wally up at Comstock Park.

Wally, who is a border collie, and Ben go way back – they met on high school soccer sidelines about 8 years ago – and actually provided some pretty rousing halftime entertainment when we were bold enough to let them off their leashes to frolic on the field while boys were getting their second half instructions.

Herding dogs like Ben and Wally have a VERY unique style of play that combines dizzying, fast-paced herding maneuvers with the game “Chicken,” in which each dog attempts to drive the other into a collision course with a tree, shrub or random human. When they tire of Herding Dog Chicken, they turn to Neck-wrestling, which involves slapping your entire upper body against your opponent's, dog-laughing the whole time. Neither is for the faint-of-heart. But it IS entertaining.

Any way.

Ben and Wally are older now, much more sedate, and tend to limit their play to a polite sniff and a brief gallop around their owners before heading off into the park to check the latest “pee-mails” left by their other four-legged friends. But I do think they’re happy to see each other.

Wally is a character. If Ben and Wally were members of a fraternal organization, Wally would be the Shriner screaming around in a Funny Car while Ben earnestly headed to his next downtown Rotary meeting. You get the picture. Wally is our free spirit. Ben -- obviously the oldest pup in the birth-order scheme of things.

Wally is the park ambassador, racing up to any stranger, with or without a dog, delighted to extend a warm welcome to Comstock Park. He is a master at finding errant tennis balls and has been known to drag branches, almost as big as him, around the park convinced someone will throw them for him. Wally attacks piles of leaves and snowmen with equal enthusiastic ferocity, creating wild cyclones of compost or frost depending on the season.

And then there are frozen mud puddles. Perhaps one of Wally's most interesting, truly finest moments (of which there are many) -- he loves to run along the row of frozen mud puddles right behind the tennis courts at the park and smash them, obviously reveling in the cacophonous sound of their demise.

In the past, Ben has looked on, always faintly worried. Wally, Ben seems to say to his friend, smashing mud puddles is noisy (don't like!) and your paws get wet (double don't like!). Please think twice. OK? OK.

But today.

The Mrs. M and I were deeply engrossed in a discussion about, I believe, Christmas Eve meatball dinners, when we heard one of those famous Wally ice-piercing "CRAAACCCKKKKKKs."

Ah, the-Wally-smashing-the-frozen-mud-puddles-schtick.

But no.

Ben, our Comstock Rotarian, had smashed his own mud puddle and was calmly lapping up some (god-knows-what-was-in-it-muddy) water. He looked up for a moment as if to say, "There's a problem?"

And then Wally blew through. Expression of pure joy on his face as he smashed the rest of the puddles.


  1. As a dog person, I feel you have captured the essence of what a dog is

  2. While food posts are good, Ben posts are the most endearing and delightful! What a photo ham.