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June, 2005

Packin' It Out

by Valerie

I was recently amused at a stunt that our fox terrier, Peri, pulled. At the beginning of one of our usual morning walks, we came across a tennis ball in a parking lot. Peri loves balls and carefully sniffed this one, then decided to take it with her. She picked it up in her mouth and we continued on. A couple of blocks later, she was distracted by wanting to sniff at other enticing things and, after giving it a moment's thought, she carefully set the ball along the curb.

The next morning, we took the same route. When we approached the deposited ball, the pooch ran over, sniffed carefully as if assuring herself it was the same one, then confidently picked it up. I thought she'd lose interest in a short while, so I was surprised that she never put it down until we came to a favorite stop about halfway on this particular walk. We pass through a church yard that has a small circular pond. Peri often enjoys a dip in this and, as usual, jumped right in. The ball was a hindrance when she tried to submerge her face, so she let it go and watched it float around for awhile. Unfortunately, it floated over into the center of the pond, where a large grate on the bottom makes walking difficult for a dog with tiny feet. Peri tried numerous times to stretch over and grip the ball, but it continued to drift to the other side. Once it came to rest against the opposite side of the pool though, she quickly jumped out, ran around the rim, and picked it back up.

We continued on, with the mutt now carrying the dripping ball. She dropped it a couple of times to chase a bird and a rabbit, but quickly recovered it without my even having to break stride. It was still securely in her mouth when we returned to the car and she enjoyed playing with it all the way home.

I couldn't help but be reminded of an incident that occurred when Larry and I were visiting with my sister, Vicky, and her husband, Tom, in Wisconsin. This was back in the autumn of 2003, and we did a lot of hiking with the kids, Lucas and Isabella. As we were returning to the van after a long hike in the woods, we noticed that Isabella (just under 2 years old at the time), wasn't with us. Looking back down the trail, we saw her plodding right along, carrying her blanket in her arms and a branch in her mouth. Since Peri is now about 1½ years old, one can only surmise that, until they are old enough to comprehend the advantage of a backpack, it is very typical for young mammals of any species to carry things about in their mouths.

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