I was on Sandy Lane headed for City Park Sunday morning when the barking from the van in front of me drowned out the radio.
I could see one black head, ears flapping and jaw moving incessantly straining from the passenger window. Then in an instant there was a golden head and in a moment later a chocolate brown head. There was a lot of commotion in the back seat as the dogs took turns at the window. All of them were barking nonstop.
What was this, the vehicle of a dog sitter packed with dogs?
What I was hearing were not barks of distress or alarm. They were excited yelps, “where are we going?” or perhaps, “we know where we’re going and let’s get there.”
I wondered how the driver put up with the racket. No doubt any residents along Sandy Lane who hadn’t woken up by now won’t have a chance of sleeping.
Ollie was geared up Sunday morning, too. Maybe it has something to do with the change of seasons and brisk mornings. He watched carefully as I laced my sneakers, then playfully crouched before prancing around the room. His way of saying “let’s do something; let’s go for a walk.”
I gave him a gentle nudge, my way of letting him know it was time to play. His enthusiasm revved up a notch.
I made it all the more exciting when I challenged him to find his “pullie.”
He may not know, or more likely ignores, the words “come” and “stay,” but say “pullie” and he’s tuned in. He looked at me with an expression that said, “really?”
“Go get it,” I said. He knows those words along with “dinner” and “walk.” Carol spells them out so as not to get him too excited. Ollie’s no dummy, but when Carol starts verbally spelling he’s figured out something is about to happen.
But there’s no mystery when it comes to “pullie” and “go get it.”
What’s more, Ollie knew just where to go to find a pullie – a two-foot piece of green rope with a fist-sized knot in both ends. He shook it vigorously, tossing it in the air and catching it before allowing me to grab one end for a tug of war. You would imagine I was trying to rob him of a T-bone steak. His growl elevated by a couple of octaves, his teeth bared. I gave the pullie a good jerk. He hung on as his feet left the carpet. He was flying. He loves it.
We played the game for five minutes after which he contentedly chewed the pullie and I headed for City Park.
As soon as the van with the dogs turned off West Shore Road, I guessed where they were headed and why the dogs were so excited. The level of barking increased as soon as it pulled into City Park and it built as we approached the dog park.
I parked alongside the van although my destination was the state’s first Immune Deficiency Foundation walk for primary immunodeficiency organized by Lois Crudden.
Unable to contain their excitement, the dogs were jumping back and forth from the front to the back of the van. I went to the driver’s side of the vehicle. The dogs – three labs – looked to be all in his lap. He tried to affix a leash to one, but it was just too much commotion. He opened the door and all three sprung out, making a beeline for the dog park gate. All the dogs in the park raced to the fence to greet the new arrivals.
Arthur Colvin didn’t need to coax the trio. They entered the holding area as a group and then once inside the park raced off with the full complement of park dogs in pursuit.
Arthur took a breath. He and his three labs visit the park two or three times a week. They know the routine and as soon as they reach Sandy Lane start barking in excited anticipation.
“Do you have a dog,” he asked.
I told him I did and he added, “they make the best friends.”
I couldn’t argue after a morning of pullie.
Arthur waved to a group setting in plastic chairs under the pines, all there with their dogs. He would be joining them.
Maybe I should bring Ollie to meet the gang and a plastic chair from which to watch the show and share dog stories.
The thought of a howling Ollie, however, was reason enough for me to conclude the pullie is better yet.