Wednesday, March 24, 2010
A bit of a clown
From our estimations, Murdoch is closing in on two-and-a-half. As he calms down a bit, matures and grows into his giant jaw, he is beginning to shed his spawn-of-satan persona and becoming somewhat of a one-dog comedy routine. If I’m not yelling at the top of my lungs at the retreating black figure of flailing limbs and flowing tail reminiscent of the ominous flag on a pirate ship, chances are I’m doubled over with laughter at his completely ridiculous antics. It helps that he looks a lot like a muppet.
Murdoch is either lightening up a bit or my sense of humour is becoming much darker. Either way, Murdoch is a lot more fun to have around than he used to be. The thing I’m starting to really appreciate about Murdoch is his toughness. It used to be a problem when that toughness was turned on everyone who tried to establish themselves as anything other than a plaything, but now it just makes for some really great slapstick comedy.
I have lost track of the number of times Murdoch has returned to my side after a romp through the woods with great swathes of hair missing from his face, replaced by beads of blood on raw skin. It’s as though he ran blindly through the bush, taking on every tree that got in his way. When questioned about it, his big brown eyes casually return my concerned stare with the sentiment, “What? It’s just a scratch.”
One evening Murdoch and I headed out for a walk. I let him off his leash near the spot I always set him free so he can run with reckless abandon amongst the long grass and splash through the swampy water at the bottom of the deep ditch at the side of the road.
He sat by my side and I unhooked his leash, telling him to wait. He waited and watched me for a minute until I said “Okay”, and he pounded off into the grasses. His presence was known only from the sounds of splashing and rustling and the wild waving of the tops of the grasses as he ran through them.
He leapt back up the ditch and burst from the long grass, trotting along the edge of the road for a minute before turning towards the ditch again. With a flying leap, he cleared the four-foot span of the abyss and then ploughed in to the patch of forest on the other side. I walked slowly along the road as he crashed through the trees behind me.
And then it went quiet. I stopped and waited, straining to hear any sound.
The silence was shattered suddenly with an urgent crashing through brush, louder than before, and I could feel a sense of panic in the air. For a split second I thought something was chasing him. Something big that accounted for the much louder din emerging from the trees. My stomach lurched at the thought of a bear clamouring along behind my dog and following him straight to me. I froze while my mind scrambled over all the ways to get out of this situation.
Murdoch’s black body appeared in a blur from the trees, moving so quickly he propelled himself across the ditch earlier than he should have and misjudged the distance. His body careened through the air, panic emanating from every pore, as he came in for a landing on the edge of the road. His front feet weren’t fast enough to get completely underneath him and he tripped over the trampled grasses on the slope of the ditch. His body continued forward with the same momentum as his front legs slipped underneath him and were pinned against the ground as the edge of the road rushed up to meet his face.
His back legs still scrambled across the ground, clearly not aware that his front end had come to an abrupt halt. Murdoch’s whole body bucked urgently forward, as he tried to get his front feet planted firmly beneath him again, causing his face to bounce about three times off the packed-dirt road.
Finally getting some purchase with his front feet, he snapped around in one motion, 180 degrees, and stood, stalk-still, facing the bush in a stance that said he was ready to take on whatever was chasing him. Nothing was there. I couldn’t help but laugh as I watched the spectacle and when he turned to look at me I called him over. He sauntered to my side, the imminent threat passed, and looked at me with a nonchalant expression in his eyes. The black shaggy hair on his face had turned brown and gravelly with dirt and his tongue was coated in mud.
“Are you okay?” I asked through my laughter, petting the top of his head. “You’re such a goof.”
With that, he turned and skipped back into the long grass. The sound of water being slurped into his mouth floated up to where I stood shaking my head.