May 21, 2009

The Ears Have It!

ollie's earsThere wasn’t any wind today, but our ears took flight anyway. I’m not sure why that was, but as you’ll notice in today’s post, ears are a-flying!

Today was not as busy as yesterday nor as busy as tomorrow promises to be, but still, I worked hard for my food. First up, Mr. Ears himself — Ollie. He was, as usual, thrilled to see us and bounced down the hill with great joy that the sun was out and we were headed for a playdate at the little field.

We played chase, fetched balls, and yes, let our ears flop in the nonexistent breeze.

Rubin's earsWhile my ears are expressive, Ollies really know how to speak a whole different language. Well, his ears and his smile, that is.

Ollie's smileAs you can see in the background, I rested in the shade while Ollie showed off his bouncy, expressive ears. It was warm today and while I love to play fetch, I have to rest every now and then to catch my breath and cool off a bit.

Gretchen tells me it’s going to get warmer. I can’t remember last summer, but today was perfect. I can’t imagine it being any warmer.

But that’s beside the point. I was telling you about ears and since Ollie was first up, let me show you some more of this guy’s ears.

Ollie's ears2More ears

I even tried to get my ears to do what his ears can do, but it took a lot of effort on my part and frankly, it was too warm to try too hard.

my earsears again

Of course then, after we’d taken Ollie back home, we drove to Rufus and Riley and if you don’t notice their ears, I’m not sure you’re really paying attention.

ears and then someI mean, just look at those babies. They are almost as long as my legs and certainly bigger than my head. Oh, this is Rufus by the way. He’s a good fellow and Gretchen tells me his ears come in really handy (eary?) because they help him pick up scents. Okay, makes sense (different kind of sense/scents…god, human language!), but I didn’t get to really see him in action until today.

Quick story: We’re walking along the Chief Sealth Trail heading north when over the ridge ride 3 police officers on motorcycles. One says, as he passes, “There’s been a bear spotted around here,” and then he smiles. I can’t tell if it’s a “yeah right” kind of smile in disbelief or “watch out” kind of smile in be wary (I couldn’t see his ears under his helmet), but regardless, we pretty much stay on the path until Gretchen hauls us up on this hill to get a photograph and what do we see?sniffbearsniff

Nope, not the bear, but a place in the grass where someone has been lying down. Someone big. Rufus puts his ears to work right quick and sniffs around like something really important is happening. I do the same and Riley, who himself has some pretty significant ears does the same.

Was it a bear? How would I know, I’ve never met a bear, but later, when we pass the police guys again, Gretchen tells them about the spot on the hill.  We were safe, she told us, because no bear is going to hang around while three loud motorcycles drive by.

It turned out that she was right, but for a moment I was a bit uncertain of her judgment.

Meanwhile, ears were aloft…yesterday it was Rufus. Today, Riley!

flyboyWe headed back to the house after our adventures in bear land and both Rufus and Riley walked slowly. It really started to warm up so it was no surprise that when we got back to their house, they went straight for the water bowl!

tails are good too

Next, we drove up to Gerta’s house where she greeted us with a happy smile and an excited tail wag. We walked north through the neighborhood. Gerta wore her backpack loaded down with lentils and dog food and I walked beside her.  When I first met Gerta, she wanted to play right away. quiet earsIt takes me awhile to warm up to another dog, so I’ve never been as excited to frolic as she has. Yesterday, she wanted to play when she first saw me, but once again I put her off.

We walked through the neighborhood, side by side, and Gretchen let us rest (it was warm, remember) in front of a beautiful vegetable garden. While our ears may not be as expressive as Rufus’ or Riley’s, if you know anything about dogs, you can tell that our ears are saying we are content and happy and comfortable with each other.

Right after this picture was taken, two women walked by and Gerta got all gushy. The women were very happy to meet us, but nothing could match Gerta’s excitement.

happinessGerta rolled right over (even though she had on that backpack) and let the woman rub her belly. It was pretty funny because Gerta was kind of stuck once she swung the backpack onto the ground. But she didn’t mind nor did the woman and the two of them “cuddled” for awhile as we looked on.

And then it happened. I just felt an overwhelming need to play with Gerta.  This doesn’t happen often with me, but the sun was out, the feelings were warm all around me, and play timewell, something about Gerta’s ears just prompted me to give her a little playful shove.

And she responded. The only one of us who wasn’t ready for the game was Gretchen who stood trying to hold two leashes, her camera, and maintain her ground against two strong dogs. She did it, though, and even managed to snap a couple of photos.

What do our ears say here?  PARTY TIME!

Let's playIt took Gretchen a moment to pull us back in line, but in the back of her mind, I know she was trying to figure out how to get us to a fenced in field where we could really play and romp and chase and solidfy our growing friendship.

Gerta would like that. So would I.

You can tell how much we’d like that by our ears.

After we dropped Gerta off, Gretchen took me home. This was a good thing because I was pretty tired and I needed a rest before my agility class late in the afternoon.

Gretchen headed out to pick up Teabiscuit who prefers having Gretchen all to herself.

Teabiscuit is like all dogs (though I don’t think she feels this way) because her ears are windows into her moods as well. Gretchen says she really likes to play fetch and when she’s ready, she lifts up those ears as if to say, “Yes, yes, yes. Throw the ball!”

throw the ballLook at those ears!  She lifts them up and down depending on her mood.  She is a shy dog and anyone can tell when her shyness kicks in. Her ears fold back against her head and her tail (also an expressive appendage) tucks underneath her body.

When happy, like right before playing fetch, her ears jump up and puff out. Her tail does the same thing and with a prance, she races after the ball or trots alongside Gretchen full of confidence and pride.

It was warm yesterday (something I know I’ve already mentioned) and this limits the amount of fetch as well as the vigor with which we walk. Teabiscuit, though small, getsear portrait warm as well and Gretchen took breaks in their time together to cuddle in the shade. Teabiscuit likes to cuddle. She asks for these cuddle sessions with her ears. Can you see how they are different in expression than the previous photo? They are softer and more pleading (as are her eyes) and Gretchen knows that this is a request for a little loving.

So they sat in the shade for a moment, cooled off, and cuddled up.  Hard for Gretchen to get a photograph of that, but you can picture it, can’t you?

Gretchen always carries treats with her and every dog we walk knows that. Some (those with more acute noses) find them as fast as lightning while others just wait until they are offered. Teabiscuit is the latter, but is more than willing to work for the treats.

What do her ears say? Well yes, her ears tell a story, but in this shot her ears aren’t the only thing talking!

treats?

I ended the day with another agility class where I practiced stopping on a dime (well, actually on a cookie), playing on a teeter-totter, and weaving myself through poles. Okay, I know how to do all of this stuff, but I got to practice and if you could have seen my ears, you would know how happy I was/am!

Until tomorrow,

Rubin

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