We often hear, "be careful of what you want, for you may get it." The summer after we got Serena the Wonder Dog I took her down to the dog exercise field at Minto Brown park, where I admired the tennis ball hurling gadget that a woman was using. While I was throwing Serena's ball just a little way down the field, plus running the risk of throwing my shoulder out with every not-so-mighty hurl, she was effortlessly catapulting her dog's ball far past my distance, and with much less effort. To top it off, she didn't have to bend down and pick up the ball after her dog trotted back and laid it at her feet.
So I was thrilled when Laurel came home with a Chuck-It a while back. It almost didn't survive its first day with us, since Serena immediately decided that it had a higher use as a plastic chew stick, than as a ball-chucking device. However, the pieces she gnawed off didn't impede the functionality of Chuck-It, so Serena and I have been training with it for several months. I'm pleased to report that in this relatively short time I've learned how to retrieve tennis balls from amazingly far distances, sometimes when they're hidden in thick wet grass, and have lost several pounds to boot. Serena has learned how to manipulate and control a human being, or, more accurately, she has honed her already ample skills in this area.
This afternoon offered a good example of how well my training is coming along. Standing at the top of our lawn area, I'm able to Chuck-It a tennis ball with excellent accuracy all the way down to, or even past, the large oak tree at the other end of the lawn. The Chuck-It web site says that throwing distances of 150 feet can consistently be achieved with their product, and I will testify to that. This is half the length of a football field. So, every time I walk all the way down the hill to the oak tree to get the ball that Serena has run after, sniffed, and then left alone to go pursue some other more interesting Wonder Dog activity, and then walk back up the hill to repeat the process, I am walking close to 300 yards, which has to be excellent exercise. "Thank you, Serena," I try to remember to say every time I trudge down and up the slope. "Because you have such a recessive retriever gene in your German Shepherd/Labrador heritage, I am reaping wonderful aerobic rewards."
Still, once in a while I wonder whether it really is appropriate for a man throwing a ball for a dog to get more exercise than the dog does. But that's a humancentric thought which I try to dispel as soon as it arises. We are equal members of equal species, Serena and I. If it works out that Wonder Dog trains me to retrieve the ball, while she has her fun running after it and then leaving it where it lays, who am I to say that this is not part of the rightful natural order of things? After all, I also am trained to jump up and give Serena her dinner-time chew stick dessert when she puts her paw on my knee while I am comfortably reading the paper on the couch, and Laurel is trained to rub her stomach until Serena falls asleep when she presents herself for her late evening pre-bedtime patting session. Ah, its great to have gone to dog-training classes. Now we know just how to respond when Serena wants us to do something.