The neighbor’s Golden Retriever is a special friend. His name is Buddy and he visits me daily. Mornings he knows he’ll find me downstairs in my writing chair. If the chair’s empty, he gambols up the stairs to the deck and peeks through the glass sliders. When I open the door to greet him, he circles, rubbing my legs before flopping on his back, all of his sixty-plus pounds against my ankles, and does his best to become one with me as I scratch his chest and tummy.
His master buys these hollow plastic dummies; cylindrical, about three inches in diameter, 12-14 inches long, one end flattened with a hole for a rope, and I think Buddy thinks it’s a cigar. He carries it George Burns like, right out the front of his mouth, and it goes everywhere with him. They are hollow and airtight, so they float . . . until he chews the end off. Then they sink. Once or twice a year I rescue one from the lake in shallow water where he drops it while taking a swim or getting a drink.
This morning I was working in the garage and here comes Buddy, without his cigar. We went through our usual first of the day greeting and then he stuck around watching me. I was involved in a project so he just hung out.
Pretty soon, there was a movement that attracted my eye; a cricket was working his way across the floor in small, nonchalant bounces. I glanced at Buddy and his expression said, “I see ‘em.” With casual ease, he gained his feet and slowly approached what he must have considered something of interest; possibly a hors d’oeuvre. His expression said, “Well, what do we have here?” It was clear who was in charge.
As he lowered his nose to within inches, the creature attacked. I could read Buddy’s mind, “What the . . ..” He recoiled like a world-class athlete on a dodge ball court. “Now this is serious.” Quickly recovering and using his finely developed hunting instincts, he began to track the beast as it crawled for shelter. As Buddy approached, the cricket launched. It seemed to think that the simple fact of non-directional jumping would keep him safe, because he delivered three consecutive world-class jumps, each in a different direction, each resulting in reflexive retreat from Buddy, who now was beginning to understand the game.
Then the cricket pulled the famous fainting goat trick. He lay there as if dead and Buddy took the bait. Straddling the opponent, he spread his jaws with the intent of tonguing the thing into his mouth. Just what Mr. Cricket was waiting for. Snapping upright, in one continuous motion he launched with perfect aim and nailed Buddy square in the nose. The reaction was instantaneous and highlighted Buddy’s Olympic potential. Without a sound he pulled off a perfect backward, quarter turn, partial flip move worthy of solid tens across the board. He landed on all fours shaking his head violently from side to side. Then, with a final shake and snort, Mr. Cricket was expelled at near light speed from one of Buddy’s nostrils. The game was over.
Posted on Thu, October 9, 2014
by Dale Swanson filed under