Sunday, March 23, 2008

Firsts and Lasts

Duncan has never been a water dog. He simply does not enjoy it. He tolerates the occasional bath and has even voluntarily climbed into the tub to let me rinse the ice-balls from between his paws after a long, snowy walk in the park, but the whole notion of water has always made him nervous. I've watched him pace anxiously along the shore of many a pond, whining at the geese and ducks just out of range, and he's even taken a tepid step or two in, but inevitably reconsiders and turns his red back on the entire affair. Lately I've been thinking that with Spring coming on it would be a good time to give him a bath and good combing, especially since Kevi, Mike and The Boys will be spending the next two days with us. I haven't exactly been dreading it, but I have been plotting and planning how the whole thing will go down.

Duncan and I celebrated Chocolate Bunny Day by joining Kevi and her family at Rene and Donnie's for brunch and afterward I decided to take Dunc to visit Denise, our former neighbor at Stapleton. Denise is a good egg and I love her with all my heart. She was a true friend throughout my initial anxiety attacks and was one of the few people I've met since moving to Denver who I felt completely comfortable around. There is no pretense with her, which is a welcome change after years of working retail, which is nothing but pretense. Sadly, though, Denise and Martin, her husband, are moving to Missoula, taking their daughter Avery and, most importantly, Duncan's best friend, their Black Lab, Madi. I wanted to give them a chance to say their farewells, play hard and snarl at Hufflepuff, an unfortunately-named white and fluffy foo-foo dog who lives next door to Denise and Martin. Denise had other plans and we ended up going on a long walk through Stapleton, down Westerly Creek to the big pond at Central Park.

Madi, unlike Duncan, is very much a water dog. I can't tell you the number of walks I shared with Denise that ended up with Madi bounding into a pond to chase the ducks or the Killdeer which scurry around the bank or play the old Broken Wing game. Madi is enthusiastic about everything, especially water (as well as finding a way to plant her paws firmly against my testicles just about every time I see her). As we approached the big pool there was no question as to where Madi would land, but I did not expect what ended up happening. After watching Madi dive in and climb out half a dozen times, Duncan stepped up to the edge, kind of leaned forward and dove in after her.

Denise and I cheered and I found myself clapping ecstatically, my heart welling up with pride. In three and a half years I'd never once seen my dog swim. I was a bit nervous and was fully prepared to dive in after him should the situation call for it, but he was fine on his own. In and out, over and over, and although he never quite mastered the devil-may-care force of Madi's leaps, he dove nonetheless. And to add to my pride, he even followed a small gaggle of geese around the perimeter of the pool, paddling furiously to keep up, his nose and eyes the only parts of him I could see. It made me want to dance.

And then, just as suddenly as it began, it ended. We made the long walk back to Denise's house where I said my farewells to Martin and Avery, hugging Denise while Duncan and Maddie chased each other around the yard one last time. They are good people and although I haven't seen them as often as I'd like, Denver will seem a little emptier without them. I know Duncan will miss Madi but neither of us will forget his first swim with her paddling at his side, a friendship only dogs know.

1 comment:

Lori said...

Oh, how cool! It's as if Duncan knew this was a significant day and wanted to do something special to mark the occasion. Be warned, though... now that he knows swimming isn't immediately fatal, his golden instincts may take over and he'll go aquatic at every opportunity! When Ryan had his senior pictures taken, I wanted ONE of him with Ripley... Ripley posed for one shot along a scenic river, then SPLASH. Ripley's photo-shoot was definitely over!