Category Archives: Play

#smallstone: Play

The growls are softer now, when they come, and there is more play, tail wagging. Sam grooms Ringo’s neck and chest, his teeth biting softly on him the way I’ve seen monkeys do. Ringo rolls on his back, belly exposed, sometimes biting Sam back.

The playing and the biting is causing more episodes of what we’ve been calling Sam’s “itchiness.” He’ll shake his head and his back leg will cramp up like he wants to scratch something but isn’t sure what or where. No one can explain it, not our vet, not the specialist, other than maybe it’s some kind of nerve damage in his jaw. None of them have ever seem anything like it. It doesn’t happen all the time or last that long, and seems instigated by excitement, and he doesn’t seem like he’s in pain or suffering. And yet, for us it’s hard to watch. It’s tempting to interrupt, to stop the playing, to keep them from it, but what is a life without play?

#augustbreak2013 Day Eleven


viewfromtheballI can’t think about play without thinking of Dexter. He was the most cheerful, happy dog, always looking for an opportunity to have some fun. He is the only dog we’ve had that if we were going on a trip, we needed to make sure and pack toys, and he had favorites: his Little D, various other babies such as his kitty or his baby ram or Monkey, and any tennis ball, even better if he’d found it on a walk.

Dexter on the beach last summer, with a tennis ball he'd found

Dexter on the beach last summer, with a tennis ball he’d found

No matter how much he loved playing with other toys, Little D was always his favorite. It was a bit sad because Little D was the present we gave him for Christmas the month after Obi died, a sort of “sorry your brother is gone” gift. He loved Little D almost as much as he loved his Obi, which is really saying something. One of Dexter’s favorite games with Little D was to throw him into a pile of leaves or snow, bury him deep in the pile, dig him out, shake him around, and then start the whole thing all over again. I’m not sure how much Little D liked it, but Big D loved it.

Without Dexter, play looks a bit different. This morning, it was taking my two boys and my camera up to Lory State Park, going on a three hour hike, being surprised by not one but two mama deers with twin babies, noticing how green everything is and how many wildflowers there are, stopping to smell the vanilla sent of the pines, taking lots of pictures, remembering and missing our Dexter even as we imagined what our next dog might be like, hoping he (she?) has the same playful attitude, cheerful disposition as he did.