The two young Jack Russell’s stand with one leg bent, poised to run.
Unblinking, their liquid brown eyes are fixed on the well-chewed ball in my hand. I throw it and they bolt after it milliseconds after it leaves my hand. Scarlet (the female with wiry fur and red ears) skids through the grass, scattering cuttings around her feet. She is the first to catch it, taking a small leap into the air to do so. She is incredibly quick and accurate. Scout (her male partner in crime, with freckled skin and soft fur) is just a few seconds behind her.
They trot over to me in unison and Scarlet drops the ball at my feet. Their tongues hang almost to the ground as they pant from exertion. But they are alert and fixated with the ball. You can almost hear them thinking: “will she throw it again?”
They will be ready for as long as I am willing to throw it, no matter how tired they are.
I hurl the ball in a different direction, hoping Scout will be the one to retrieve it this time. He is in the lead, but he is distracted by Jack, the gentle giant. He is a huge Boerbul who comes up to my waist, a great big slobbering beastie. Jack loves to chase Scout rather than the ball. When Jack becomes too invasive, Scout jumps at Jack and nips him gently on the check, growling as if to say “stop bothering me!” Apparently they have acted out this scenario since Scout was a pup and there is no malice or aggression in the interaction. Jack simply bounds away, having his own fun.
But in the instant that Scout is distracted by Jack, Scarlet sneaks in to grab the ball from him. She is the victor once again.
Once the human (me) grows tired of throwing the ball, the two of them tussle over the slimy, chewed green thing for ages, as if it was the tastiest treat in the doggie world. Somehow, they both get their mouths on the ball at the same time and run with it side-by-side, as if they are one Siamese twins.
Even when the human returns to the house for a cuppa and a rest on the couch, they bring their play indoors. Scarlet seems the more determined of the two, and is perhaps a tad stronger. She tugs at the ball and Scout, who is attached to the other side of it is dragged across the rug on his back in an undignified way. He doesn’t care about dignity – all he wants is ownership of that ball!
Happy, doggy days! I sometimes wish I could be as in the moment as dogs are. But when I think about it, watching them play is a good way of being in the moment, being aware.