I heard her, five minutes before the alarm was due to drag me from my bed. It is the first night in ages that I have woken there… I await a new mattress, having given in to the pressure of necessity and elderly springs. Most of the time, I end up on the sofa. Last night, however, I was tired. Having spent the whole day walking around the zoo and pushing the wheelchair in the rain, I went out like the proverbial light and stayed that way.
The small dog took advantage of the situation. I heard the clippity clop of her claws on the wooden flooring as she approached the door… the sniff to see if I was awake… then the unmistakable sound of a strategic retreat. She reverses by moonwalking.
The ball had been placed in front of the bedroom door where I could not fail to notice it. Moreover, on the offchance that I, in my somnolent state, did fail to notice it, it had been placed dead centre so that I would inevitably kick it and set the ball rolling for the morning play. Ani seems to delight in such rituals.
The next thing I saw was a hopeful small dog, crouched, poised and waiting in her new position by the front door. She has abandoned the couch in favour of her new bed, at least at night. When we moved, I bought her a nice big cushion to sleep on. She ignored it for several days before finding it was useful for hiding the ball. She dragged it around a bit, took it for a walk around the garden and eventually decided that it was good. I had positioned it for her near the big windows so that she could look out, she has dragged it instead into place by the front door. Which does get her off the couch a bit… but means that opening the front door now involves getting past the small dog. No-one is coming in or escaping without her knowledge, consent and, if she can wangle it, company.
My exit from the bathroom was greeted by another tennis ball positioned in the middle of the hall. A little while later and the ball took up a new position in the dead centre of the open french doors. I kid you not, had she brought ruler and set-square to the task, it couldn’t be more accurate. She is good at this. I have to wonder why this spherical symmetry matters so much to a dog for whom acceptable housekeeping involves every toy and sofa cushion being strewn about the room.
Housekeeping is a sore point at the moment. There was me thinking that nice, light wooden floors would be so easy to keep clean. Not with the lesser black-haired mud-wallower constantly running in and out apparently. After sweeping carefully twice a day, only to find that I’d missed half the hair as soon as I mopped, I gave in and went in search of a solution. My new gadget.. a kind of mini-hoover-on-a-stick… is wonderful and allows me to reach places hitherto unexplored by hoovering. Including the dog. Which is where it becomes a sore point.
I figured that if I hoovered the source, I wouldn’t have to do the floors so often. The small dog disagrees. And runs.
Perhaps that is what all this precision ball-placing is about… reminding me that the working relationship we have is well established. I throw balls on demand and provide walks, meals and cuddles. She protects me from postmen, pigeons and flies and keeps my toes warm with a nice hairy carpet… even when it is detached from its source. Nowhere in this arrangement does the wielding of a vacuum cleaner figure.
I suppose I wouldn’t be best pleased if someone shifted the rules without so much as a by-your-leave either. We all have our habits and comfort zones… and rebel against imposed changes. It is human nature.
And apparently canine nature too. She’s had a lot to put up with lately…