We got up to 12 degrees today (about 60 F). I ditched the coat and played ball in the park with Brio for an hour, then came home and played ball in the backyard for another 1 1/2 hours, then came in the house and played fetch with a toy for... well, you get the picture. The little creature doesn't hold still. He ran flat-out at top speed for 2 1/2 hours! And he's not even tired. Whew! I'm going to have to get in shape if I'm going to keep up with him this summer. There's nothing quite so joyful-looking as a puppy with a ball in his mouth.
I cleaned up the yard a bit and turned under one of the garden beds. Five more to go. I'm going to take it slowly, a little every day, so that I don't overdo it. It wouldn't have taken long except I had to stop every other shovelful to throw the ball for the dog. If I tried to ignore him, he would keep picking up the ball and dropping it at my feet, over and over like a woodpecker. When I went into the fenced-in garden, he would carefully nudge the ball through the fence and make it roll to a stop in front of me. (He's a clever one! Not all dogs grasp the concept of "She can't reach it from there." Certainly Maple has never been able to figure out other beings' points of view.) It was like watching him play pool, getting the ball to land just so. If I still ignored it, he would start doing his little "talking" sound -- not a bark or a whine, just a sort of "rarr rarr ooo?" as if he's saying "Hey, I'm standing here waiting for you. Don't you see me?" And then he'd stare intensely into my eyes, unblinking, willing me to bend down and pick up the ball. Sending me little telepathic zaps. So of course I complied. Who can argue with a face like that?
Halfway through the evening, my husband's bagpipe students spilled from the house onto the back patio and gave me some music to work to. We have such understanding neighbours! I'm sure they wouldn't have given us such a nice welcome to the neighbourhood if they'd known what they were getting into. Of course Brio had to throw back his head, close his eyes, and join in. You could almost see him smiling.
It's 10:30, time for bed, and as I write this, Brio is lying on my feet like a hot water bottle, comforting and heavy. I have to say, no matter what kind of day you've had, no matter what goofs you may have made or how disappointed or rotten you may feel, when you walk in the door and your dog greets you with such pure joy and affection ("You're back! You've been gone so long! I missed you so much!"), you feel like the best, most blessed human in the universe. You can't help but feel better with a welcome like that. Everybody needs a dog to remind them every moment that they are loved.