Meet Annie. She loves to run. She loves to swim, and she loves to chase sticks. You can mix those three things up, try to prioritize them, and you’ll find any one of them fits first place perfectly. Annie loves to run, swim, and chase sticks. She’d do it til she dropped dead and die a happy dog.
Here she is, expecting we’re going for a ride to throw a stick. She loves to take a ride, probably because she knows we’re either going to a place where she can swim…
and she will patiently bide her time in the hopes that we do both.
Annie used to live on a farm with an old man who accidentally ran her over with his tractor. Broken and on the mend, she was handed off to live elsewhere because, for some reason, she didn’t learn to not challenge the tractor. She continued to run in front of it, stop and turn, and bark furiously at it in the apparent hope it would turn around and go the other direction. She wound up with me one summer at a minesite where she could run and swim and chase sticks and tennis balls without getting into too much trouble. She did the same thing with my forklift, get in the way, barking like crazy. I’d have to threaten her with her stick, make her go SIT! until I was done, and all the while she’d be panting, panting, panting. Crazy dog. Crazy Annie.
Annie never gave up. If you threw the ball once, you’d have to throw it 9,871 more times and then start over. Once she stretched her legs, she would come back and sit in front of you, panting. Then she’d stand up and do a little paw dance, shifting from one foot to the other in anticipation of chasing another stick – it was endless. In the middle of Nitoning a sample, a branch or a 2×4 would be dropped at my feet, and the pant-dance would begin, eyes bright, tongue hanging out, tail wagging. She never gave up. Throw the stick. Throw the stick. Throw the stick, throw the stick, throwthestickthrowthestickthrowthestick! Good grief.
She had fun with the hares, and the hares had fun with her. First thing of a fall morning, the hoppy little guys would be gathered beneath ATCO units, safe and snug and just venturing out to find some breakfast – only here came Annie. She was good out the gate, but if two or more hares split the chase, she’d run in a circle and lay down, wait for another one to come by. The hares had her figured out, developed their own buddy system and never went out alone. They were safe from Annie. Still she persisted and if she actually caught up with hopper, she’d run around in circles, barking, until the thing sprinted away. Throw the stick!
November, the end of season, and I headed south to take Annie home to her owner. Many side roads were explored so Annie could run, chase a stick, swim, but unless she was asleep beside me in the pickup, she was upright, nose to the window, panting, both front feet dancing. Bison, elk, fox, even a small herd of horses didn’t distract her one-track mind from its program – run, chase the stick, swim. More than twenty-four hundred miles to our destination, Canada provided plenty of opportunity to pull off and throw a stick, let her out to run ahead, or find a bog or ditch for her to immerse herself in. If she was wet, she would run til she was nearly dry, and I’d rub her down before letting her jump in the truck but always, always, the panting would begin once we got moving. Pant-pant-pant-pant-pant…all the way through Canada. I called Joe and asked him if he minded if I popped her a Benadryl just so I could get some peace and quiet. I didn’t though, but don’t ask me why. She just didn’t quit, and for some weird reason I was cool with it – after the first 900 miles.
I’ll give Annie credit for being a wonderful traveling companion. She never had an accident, never ran off other than to lead the way. Her funny habit would be to get far ahead and do circles in the road, barking madly until I caught up, then run ahead and stop to do circles, barking the whole time. Between running at full gallop and barking, I wondered how she had any breath left at all, but she never gave up. Good ol’ Annie-Girl.
Years later, and I’ve put dibs on another dog, a Beauceron. Intelligent, obedient, sturdy, they’re ideal for disciplined wilderness living. Jack was such a dog, keen on riding front seat on a motorcycle, but that’s another story. Come January I’ll have a new companion and we’ll be on to happy new adventures.