Tuesday, July 12, 2011
"Gather around, Puppies. I have lessons to teach you." Dakota panted heavily. The walk over the hillside had winded him. The arthritis in his hips was getting worse. He wouldn't make many more trips to the creek, he feared. Before him, Bandit and Sissy Sue frolicked and romped. They rolled around in a clumsy ball of fur while Dakota tried again to get their attention.
"Puppies. Stop. I have things to tell you." The two siblings lay still for a moment, completely entangled. Dakota continued.
"Your real father isn't here to teach you, but there are some things every dog should know. First, don't do any tricks until you see the treat. Got it? Smell the treat, then do the trick. Humans need to be trained right from the start.
"Secondly, when you bury a bone, wait at least three months to retrieve it. You want it to get moist and soften up. Let the worms do some work. When you think you're just about to forget that you even hid a bone in the first place, that's the time to go find it. Trust me, the longer you leave it buried, the better it will taste."
Sissy Sue licked her chomps. She liked all this talk about treats and bones.
"Last but not least," Dakota imparted, "Don't follow the beavers down the creek. They're mean and they don't have anything you want anyway. Stick to shallow water. That's where the best rocks are. Wade in a little bit until you step on a rock that feels big enough to sink your teeth into."
Dakota closed his eyes as he mentally savored a creek rock. Sissy Sue sniffed in the direction of his mouth. She loved rocks and Dakota often had rock-breath. She breathed in the fumes and waited for Dakota to finish. But Bandit, who was not quite the foodie that Sissy Sue was, tackled her again. He'd listened to Dakota, but now he wanted to play.
Sissy Sue rolled beneath him. She nipped at his ear and imagined it was the tender weathered bone that Dakota talked about. Dakota watched her and then lay down his head. He'd done all he could. They'd grow up to be whatever types of dogs they would be. He'd shared his wisdom and that was all he could do. It remained to be seen whether the old dog could teach these puppies new tricks.