Another sure sign that Fall is near: my dogs are playful again.
I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t have a dog. They are as much a part of life to me as sunshine and fresh air, and they’ve given me as much pleasure over the years. I’ve occasionally had other pets as well, but nothing in the animal world can compare to the companionship of a dog.
Over the past ten or so years, we’ve always had a boxer (or two). If you’ve never been around one, this is a great breed. They are slow to mature, even tempered, and fierce-looking but very gentle. To me their most defining characteristic is their need for companionship. They are very “attached” and social. This is great if you want to take the time and responsibility of owning a dog. Not so good if your idea of a dog is a lone fixture in the landscape of your back yard. This is why we usually have two–they can occupy each other when we’re at work, rather than chewing the chimney off the house in some sort of psychotic protest of being left alone.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, my two have spent a good portion of the Alabama summer trying to escape the heat by taking refuge under our back porch. They make a brief appearance around sunset, when we take our daily trip around the yard–me on the atv, them barking out in front. I think this is some gentetically encoded memory to them–the three pack members on the hunt, roaming the landscape in search of a wildebeast to pull down for supper. And though we always return unsuccessful, this is a trip that must be made daily. Doesn’t matter if I’m late from work, sick, or the weather’s bad. Miss a day, and there will be consequences . Something will be chewed up and scattered across the back yard–probably something important.
The recently cooler morning temperatures have brought back their playfullness. I heard them on the back porch this morning–the scuffling of paws across the deck. It usually involves a toy or a piece of bedding, stolen by one, chased by the other, and repeated until a new game is devised.
We have not yet, however, witnessed the true sign of Fall in dog behavior this year. I don’t know what the scientist would call it, but I refer to it as a “running fit”. Every dog that I have ever had has exhibited this behavior at least once. It is a sort of spontaneous reaction to cooler temperatures. Or maybe it’s just the “joy of being alive”. It usually happens like this: the first really cool day, the dog takes off running at full speed, usually in some sort of circular route, and often finishing with some sort of comedic effect (ie, diving headlong into shrubbery, or knocking over lawn chairs). It only last a minute or two, and will only occur once at the beginning of the Fall season. My late boxer “Butch” was especially artful at this. He once made three complete full-speed circuits of our house and ran right up the sloped front end of the minivan we owned at the time. A dog standing on top of a minivan, with no idea how to get back down, is an image you never forget.
I can’t wait to see this year’s show.