May 30th, 2018
I finally have a retriever. No, the family didn’t get another dog. For the past week, Bailey has indulged her need to fetch a stuffed toy over and over again. It’s a need that has only recently surfaced after almost 3 ½ years of living with us. Bailey is good for about five throws before she “tires” of the activity – sticks, balls and stuffed animals. Other dogs eagerly chased down balls at the dog park while Bailey was content to watch them and hang out with their people. I came to accept that fetching wasn’t Bailey’s thing.
Out of the blue, our girl suddenly looked forward to marathon fetching sessions with a certain plush toy. The toy was originally given to Bailey by the owner of her pal, Cas. Early last year, they were going away for a couple of weeks and knew Bailey would miss her daily adventures with him. The toy smelt of Cas and we hoped it would offer some comfort to her while he was gone. Although she never played with it, Bailey would stare at her toy basket until one of us got it out and tossed it beside her. The same scenario played out each day until Cas came home. Then, she no longer had any interest in it. I washed it and placed it back in the basket. There the toy stayed. I considered getting rid of it but, never took action. The toy remained buried and neglected until last Thursday.
Bailey went to her basket as was her usual practice after the nightly grooming. Even though she can get her own toy, she prefers that one of us grab Stuffie. Her stuffed bear was lying top of the heap and I gave it to her. Bailey loves to suck on her Stuffie before falling asleep. She ignored that Stuffie and continued to focus on the basket. I was too slow. So, she took it upon herself to take the other stuffed animal out. Bailey brought it over to me and nudged me with it. I threw it into the entry and Bailey charged madly after it. She returned quickly and waited for the next throw. I kept thinking that each throw would be the last. Bailey just kept scrambling to get it and brought the toy back to me. It was getting wetter by the minute. I was getting sloppy with my throws. In fact, I hit the light switch and turned the living room lights on. Granted, I was lying out on the couch which restricted my arm movements. I kept wondering how much longer she was going to last. That first night, Bailey fetched twenty-three times. She reached thirty on the following night and I have stopped counting since then. Is it a phase or has my Newfoundland dog discovered the joy of retrieving? I’m not sure. But, thanks to our girl, my arm muscles will be firmer by summer.