Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Water logged

When Murdoch is wet he is all jaw. His hair, normally shaggy and wind-blown, clings to his body, sleek and shiny. His long legs become toothpick skinny and even his feet, which seem huge when he’s dry, are bony; the usually frazzled hair, now sodden and heavy, defines each toe.

This past summer Murdoch lived in the swimming hole. Every day he dashed down the bank and waited in the shallows, water up to his knees, for me to throw a stick so he could plunge in, sending up white cascades of water. If the swimming hole did not freeze in the winter, I am sure he would paddle through it, steam rising from his fur, while snowflakes drifted down and melted into the black water around his head.

But in the late days of September beneath blue skies and the summer heat of a fast moving autumn sun, winter seems months away and Murdoch splashes enthusiastically around the pond, snatching up ripples in his mouth on his way to retrieve the stick.

He emerges from the water, bounds up the path and appears at the top of the slippery slope streaming water behind him from a rat-thin tail while it sheets off his sides. He drops the stick and stands for a moment, stares at me, contemplating my next move. Is it worth it to shake off before turning again for another cannonball into the pond?

I hesitate a moment too long and as I step forward I barely notice the cock of his head before water is flying from his fur, corkscrewing down his body as his lips wobble, his ears flap and his backend shivers down to his tail. His hair stands off his body as if electrified and I am soaked.

“Thanks,” I say as he stomps his feet in anticipation, eyeing up the stick in my hand. I let it fly up over his head to splash again into the water and he turns, kicking up mud as he leaps down the hill after it, water sloshing in his belly.


  1. The coats of all my dogs, except one, have been short-haired. Rescue dogs chosen because I don't like drying and cleaning wet dogs! With some of them, I used to take them to where a stream was about to enter a large pond. They loved splashing about in the clear water and got nice and clean and the long walk back meant they were almost dry when we got home!

    Isn't it fascinating how they shake themselves - from the nose down to the tail.

  2. It is fascinating how they become so impossibly fluid when they shake themselves. It kind of looks like fun!

    I think if I had the choice, short-haired dogs would be my preference as well, though the dogs in my life all just sort of fell into my lap, unplanned... Except for Bear :)

  3. Love that shake photo! Had to click on it so I could see it bigger. Hair flying, face scrunched up.. great!