Sunday, November 29, 2009

Duck, Duck, Goose

Yesterday we took Dirty Harry and Penny the Impetuous to the park for a walk. The main path is paved and makes a lovely 1/3 mile loop around a little lake which is populated with fish and waterfowl as well as transients who stop by. Once we saw a great blue heron wading in the reeds on the shore, and every year we are treated to a new batch of ducklings, whose progress we follow carefully, noting how the moms care for the babies, which makes a wonderful learning situation for kids who have attachment issues.

People feed the ducks, which makes them unafraid of people and most likely unhealthy little beggars.

Anyway, when we got to the bridge which spans the spillway to the outgoing stream, I let Penny wade in the water. A lone mallard duck approached us, hoping for a snack of Froot Loops or Cheezits. Penny suddenly reverted to instinct and attempted to go after the duck, who obviously needed to be retrieved despite being hale and hearty.

"Leave it," I said. However, Labs are bred to make judgement calls about their human's lack of sense about retrieving, so she scrabbled on the concrete spillway and got one foot in the lake.

"Leave it!" I told her. She maneuvered herself, putting both back feet on the vertical ledge of the spillway and shoving with all her strength. I braced myself, and we pushed/pulled against one another for a few seconds. The duck, thinking Doritos might me in order, cruised closer.

Penny started to yap. "LEAVE IT!" I said. Some woman, walking with a little girl with an annoying voice obviously sharpened by a few years of use, as she never shut up, came racing over to see the show. The child started to laugh hysterically. "Gaaahk!" Penny said.

"LEAVE IT!" I repeated, feeling a little desperate that I was going to join the duck.

"What's the dog's name?" The child asked, still laughing in an eardrum piercing manner. I didn't respond, as all my energy was now devoted to keeping myself out of the drink. The duck, apparently reassessing the situation, had decided that he might be the snack and started to paddle furiously away. "GWAHRK!" Penny gagged, lunging after the departing vessel as if she was missing a trip to the new world.

"What's the doggie's name? What's the doggie's name? Lady! What's the doggie's name. WHAT IS THE DOGGIE'S NAME?" the annoying child kept asking, coming closer each time. If I had experienced any slack in the leash whatsoever, I would have whipped it around her body a few times and let go. No such luck.

Finally the duck sailed behind some reeds, and Penny, whose oxygen level was at an all time low, allowed me to reel her back in. "Sit!" She did. "Wait!" I said. She did, obviously thinking I had Plan B for bird recovery in mind so still scanning the lake. The annoying child kept up a running commentary which neither Penny nor I acknowledged, as she had no oxygen going to her brain and I had too much.

Today it is in the fifties and sunny. Perhaps we will do it again.

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