Friday, August 6, 2010

Playing with Someone Else's Balls*

Duncan and I stopped by Brady's apartment last night on our way back from our last walk. The sun had set but dark had not quite settled in above the mountains. The sky, except for a single, narrow stripe of clouds, was clear and thick with stars. The early evening rain had tickled the scents from the grass and trees and the rich dark ground. The glow of light from the parking-lot lamps was crushed by dancing swirl of moths and gnats. But Brady's apartment was cool and quiet and the music, as always, was good.

Duncan is a little afraid of Roxie, Brady's mutt, which, in our feeble and fruitless attempts to identify, we have dubbed A Czechoslovakian Toad Hound. Roxie is a good dog, trained by the inmates of a Kansas prison. She sits and stays, shakes, hugs, does everything she's told, but she's not very friendly when Duncan comes inside to visit. They play happily and without care in The Glen, but once inside she has a nasty habit of snarling and snapping. Dunc tries hard to avoid her, sometimes crawling over coffee tables to do it, but loves her toys. Brady has spoiled Roxie with dozens of tennis balls, chewy ropes, stuffed animals and all manner of plastic squeaky things, and Duncan, who, despite the bureau I keep filled with balls and fraying, well-loved friends, feels completely neglected and must play with everything in Roxie's stockpile.

Brady and I sat on the patio overlooking The Run. The night was hot but a cool breeze wound its way through the leaves of the maple which grows mere feet away from his balcony. Duncan lounged at my feet, two or three radiation-green tennis balls scattered in front of him. Roxie stood guard in the doorway 'les he sneak back in and grab a few more toys. Duncan gnawed and chewed, rolled them back and forth between his paws and glanced up every few minutes with a sheepish grin on his face. Roxie could not reach him and he was free to play unfettered.

We didn't stay long, no more than an hour. Duncan, who loves Brady, gave him a long lick on the leg, slipped past Roxie, who immediately began a careful inventory of the balcony. Duncan, normally reluctant to leave, waited anxiously at the door, eager for the leash and the walk home. He dragged me down the stairs, across the parking lot and to our own door.

Even though we have been avoiding it, Duncan was eager to venture down The Run this morning, ignoring the flocks of birds cackling from the shrubs and the squirrels which he chases from tree to tree. He barely stopped to tend to business but charged ahead as though on a mission. I struggled on the slight slope, the grass damp underfoot, and managed as best I could to keep up with him. Normally he won't go too far ahead and stops often to wait for me to catch up, but this morning he could have cared less, forgetting to glance over his shoulder and ignoring my whistles. When I lost sight of him I rushed forward and found him scouring the shrubs below Brady's balcony, two of Roxie's tennis balls firmly lodged in his mouth and attempting to squeeze a third one in. He looked up at me, tail wagging a thousand miles an hour, a full, but guilt-free smile spread across his face. While we'd chatted last night Duncan had been casually slipping the balls between the rails and dropping them to the ground below to be retrieved on our morning walk.

How he must have suffered all night, curled up beside me, feigning sleep while his revenge loot waited to be claimed. I tossed two balls back up but let him keep the third as reward for his patience and cunning.

*You should be ashamed for thinking what you were thinking!


David said...

You and Duncan have so much in common. (I used to inventory the silverware after your visits. Yes, it's true.) And as for that last crack, I have NO idea what you are talking about.

Ruby's Mum said...

Sneaky boy, Duncan!

Greg said...

What a clever boy! That'll show Roxie...

Traci said...

That is hilarious! Love that dog.