We walked towards the bridge over the gulley. We were hoping to see some dogs in the water, for this was the dog pond and it was given a wide berth by any self-respecting waterfowl in the area. There was plenty of water and marshland for them elsewhere. But this little pond was the one that had been adopted by the dogs in the neighbourhood and few could pass it without venturing in.
As we reached the bridge, she came bounding towards us from the opposite direction. She was alone, but she knew where she was heading. She made a bee-line for the water and I expected her to dash in and splash around.
She stopped on the shore, her paws just in the water and she began to smell the ground. We watched, fascinated by her dedication to her mission.
At last, she found what she was looking for! It was a struggle to pick it up. She had to open her jaws wide and take a couple of attempts before she had a strong enough grip to hold it. She glanced up at us on the bridge and trotted around the edge of the pond towards us, bearing her prize, head up, eyes shining, tail like a banner.
She came within two metres of us then dropped the heavy volcanic rock with a resounding thud and darted away, back to the shore, this time to leap into the water and gaze up at us, her ears alert, her eyes appealing.
“She wants you to throw it for her.”
The lady with the lead had joined us, although we had been too engrossed with watching her dog to take much notice
We chatted a little, about dogs and the weather and the park.
All the time I was aware of those eyes, watching, pleading.
“Throw it, throw it.”
I turned and smiled down at the dog.
It was enough and she came bounding out of the water, dripping, panting, up the bank to her rock. Once again she struggled to grasp it. But she was not going to let such a challenge deter her. After several attempts she picked it up again and brought it to me, dropping it once more, but this time only 30cms from my feet.
Not waiting for a response she tore back into the water, ready for her rock to be thrown.
How could I resist such determination? Such appealing eyes?
I weakened. Bending down I picked up the rock, surprised how rough and heavy it was. It filled my hand as I held it. No small rock, this.
I said, “Okay, here you are.”
And the dog pricked her ears, her eyes fixed on her rock.
I flung it over the bridge where it gave a satisfying splash as it landed, well away from the dog. She lunged for it, hurling herself through deep water. And then she dived.
She must have held her breath for she was under for twenty seconds or so, coming up spluttering and gasping for air.
Down she went again, completely disappearing below the surface. Not even the tips of her ears or her banner tail were visible.
After the fourth time, she admitted defeat.
“Come,” her mistress called, “let’s go.”
And without a second glance, she was gone, running across the grass to the next adventure over the hill, around the corner.
I had fulfilled my purpose. I had thrown her rock; I had become part of her story and she, mine.
I will never see her again. But she gave me a moment in time when I was the most important person in her life – the provider of joy.
How, I wondered, as we climbed the hill to rejoin our friends, can I be that to others? Such a little thing brought such pleasure to the dog and to me.
What other little things can do the same?
I will seek them out and use them when I can.
What about you?