It's been hot here so Lu and I decided Chrisi needed a nice swim. Grandpa's Pond is just on the outskirts of Hurricane, an easy drive from our house. So we dressed casually loaded up and headed out.
The pond is actually very nice. Clear water, about a half mile in circumference and no one about. We unloaded and headed for the shore.
A few words about Chrisi are in order. She's Trooper's half sister, same mom, different dad. Where Trooper hated retrieving and did so only on sufferance, Chrisi is a hard wired hunting dog. Trooper had a play drive a mile wide. Chrisi still doesn't really like to play. She thinks wrestling is confusing because hey, where's the ball? If there's no going out, getting something and bringing it back what's the point?
Chrisi is a predator with an unbelievable drive. If not for her hip and our indifference she could have easily been a champion. She's also 13 and will be 14 in December (Her AKC name is Lu's Chrisimas Surprise. I swear). Her days as an active retriever are long behind her but she apparently hasn't lost her drive.
See, Chrisi is hard headed. I mean, stubborn doesn't begin to cover it. She drove Lu to tears many, many times. Oh, she's smart she's just hardwired to do what retrievers do. If what we were doing, like basic commands, wasn't what her instincts told her she was supposed to be doing she tended to balk. Trooper and Chrisi were trained to voice, hand and whistle commands but as she's aged Chrisi has reverted to her adolesence just a bit.
So, there we were at Grandpa's Pond, out for a nice afternoon of fun and frolic and maybe a bit of splashing around by Chrisi to cool her off on a hot summer day. As we got to the floating dock a couple of Eider Ducks swam out from underneath. I watched Chrisi and she focused like a laser beam on the pair. Usually that's enough to send such obvious miscreants winging for safer territory but no, not on this day. Today these two decided that Chrisi was no threat and loitered in the immediate area, quacking taunts and making disparaging remarks about Chrisi's mama.
Chrisi menaced them for a minute or so, letting them know who the big dog in the pond was but alas, it was to no avail. Clearly a more pointed message needed to be sent so into the water she went. We’ve seen this before. She knows she can’t catch ducks in the water but she has pursued them enough times to know what comes next. She chases for a few feet, they take wing and fly off and her world is once again complete. Her dominance has been established and all things are returned to their proper place. But again, no.
The ducks swam away, just out of reach. Chrisi, being old but no slouch, decided that this was just too much. Somebody was going to pay and pay big. She put her head down and pursued.
Now, by this time Lu and I have decided that enough is enough and Chrisi has gone as far as we’re comfortable letting her go. Commands were issued and same were ignored as the Chrisipedo sped unerringly on her mission. Teaching a couple of uppity ducks what’s what. Now we're getting a little panicky as we see the ducks, trailed by the resolute Chrisi, fading from sight. More commands were issued in a slightly higher pitch. Nope, no suggestion that she either heard or was inclined to obey. It was pretty obvious by this point that the girl was a bit incensed and determined to mete out retriever justice as only she can.
I sent Lu on a flat run around the pond to try and intercept (after all, she’s her dog. Right?) I went to the truck and dug around for a whistle. By the time I got back Lu was chugging around the bend and Chrisi was still on course, all the way across the pond. I cupped my hand around the whistle and blew the recall, repeated short blasts. Nothing. Absolutely no response. I hollered at Lu, “You’re gonna have to go in and get her.” I’m pretty sure I heard cussing but Lu swears I’m too old to hear that far.
Now Lu wasn’t wearing a bathing suit, just shorts and a tank top. We also didn’t have so much as a towel or a change of clothes or any type of back up plan involving either of us getting wet (like I was ever going in the water). Still, Lu tore off her sunglasses, shoes and socks and dove in. Remember, faithful reader, that we’re basically sea level people, unused to the air at even the 3000 feet of altitude found in the Hurricane environs. So yeah, after about 100 feet of swimming Lu kinda ran out of gas and was relegated to a floating, dog paddling kind of locomotion. Chrisi was still churning resolutely along.
I, following the guy code of doing exactly what was expected and no more, stood on the shore and furiously blew recall on the whistle. The total lack of response only lending wings to my futility. I never could take a hint. Finally, the gap between canine and abject lessons widened as Chrisi started to tire a bit. Just shy of the far shore she broke off, apparently satisfied that the honor of Labs everywhere had been upheld. I quit whistling.
I called to Lu that I thought Chrisi was beginning to founder and that she needed to go get her. Lu made a comment about my ancestry and inquired as to just what I thought she was currently engaged in doing. She’s such a kidder.
Chrisi turned and started swimming back. By this time Lu is only about 25 feet away and is calling to her (I say screaming. Lu calls me an inveterate liar). For some obscure Labrador reason Chrisi ignored her completely and is looking back toward where the chase started. Lu reminds me that I have the only whistle and, you know, maybe I might consider putting it to good use. I start whistling again and a miracle occurs. Chrisi’s hearing suddenly returned and now she can actually hear my furious recalls and turns toward the shore where I’m standing, waving my arms like a complete idiot. Chrisi completes the swim, just as calm and unhurried as can be (though she was listing a bit to port by the time she hit the shore). Lu swims to where she started and manages to heave her oxygen starved body from the water. When she got out of the water, Chrisi gives me the “What?” look every Lab owner is all too familiar with so I know all is well.
I get Chrisi squared away in the truck and wait for Lu. And wait for Lu. And wait for Lu. Seems that in the excitement she misplaced her shoes, socks, hat and sunglasses and it took her about 15 minutes to gather her belongings and make it back to where we were waiting with great patience. I’m almost positive I made no snarky comments.
Chrisi is now ensconced in the room under the swamp cooler making snoring sounds that’d put a hippo with sinusitis to shame, sleeping the sleep of the righteous. Lu thought that a bit of refresher training was indicated but after a while she decided that Chrisi’s almost 14 after all and really, you know, she does pretty good, so you know, what’s the point and is currently making plans for a return trip to grandpa’s Pond.
I have my whistle on a lanyard for quick access.
I’ll take pictures.