I’ve discovered another way my three-year-old dog’s intense concentration (on rabbits) can be broken.
She ‘pointed’ a rabbit nonchalantly dining on lawn clover a scant five feet from her nose as we walked through our neighborhood in the new morning. Normally, she’ll enter a sort of trance. Not a muscle will quiver. Not a whisker. Her right front paw will rise slowly, and remain precisely suspended. Her lovely fringed tail will straighten to an exclamation point. And there she’ll stay, for an impossibly long time, trying to reel in the rabbit psychically.
Today, after trying to be patient, I finally pulled her harness lead suddenly to snap her out of it, but she stayed rock-steady, impervious, pointing, pointing...It was like trying to move cement. “Bryn,” snapped,” Let it go!” while briskly tugging her lead again. Still no acknowledgment. When this dog deeply meditates on rabbity possibilities, I mused, she’s transported to another world.
Then two passersby paused to take in her freshly brushed self. Bryn ignored them.
“Oh, Jim, isn’t she cute? Isn’t she just darling? What sort of dog are you? You’re so pretty!” She glanced at me. “It’s a ‘she,’ isn’t it? And such a fringe-y tail!”
“Look at her look at that brassy rabbit! She’s so dedicated! Oh, check out those long, fringed ears!”
One ear twitched.
“What a good dog! Is her fur as soft as it looks?”
When she finally took a breath, leaving a tiny silence, Bryn’s brown eyes flicked toward her admirer.
I am a good dog, I am.
Ha! I couldn’t disturb her concentration, but strangers could! She wasn’t that removed from the world, just immune to my exasperation.
Now her tail began to collapse into a curve. For heaven’s sake, Bryn was posing!
The couple eventually moved on, disappointed that she wouldn’t cancel the ‘point’ so they could fuss over her.
I found it hard to stop chuckling.
A few days ago I was on hands and knees in the grass, tracing strands of clover to its root source. (Often its pale root strand can be convinced to ‘unhook’ from the soil, beginning at the withered flower. If I can pull gently, yet not break that strand, it will ultimately guide me all the way to the main root, which is so satisfying.)
In the midst of a particularly long extraction, I happened to look up.
Bryn, three feet to my right, was ‘at point’- but on her belly! Her head lay flat on the ground between her front paws. Her tail, straight as a pencil, rested on the lawn. A biggish speckled juvenile robin, still in the fearless nithead stage, stood confidently in the grass, mere inches from her nose, eager to check out why it twitched. There were no frantic parents screaming warnings above her head, no garden visitors, nothing to interrupt this sun-drenched drama.
The prat suddenly began to cheep loud and fast. Bryn didn’t move. I didn’t dare move. My God, that silly young robinette had no clue! My dog could grab her in an instant! But there they were, staring at one another’s noses...
The bird continued to question as she bounced whisker-close. Would she dare to peck that polished black button??
Big brown eyes darted for an instant toward me; I’ve got this, Boss-
I remained absolutely still, studying Bryn’s long, white body for indicators. If her claws moved toward the soil, she’d be telegraphing that a pounce was imminent. Instead, her eyes narrowed to slits, and just the tip of her plumed white tail began to wag while the robinette squawked on, hurling questions:
Who are you? I’m Big. I’m hungry!
For a few long seconds the cheep din continued. Nobody blinked. I forgot to breathe.
Then that trusting bird stopped blabbering to turn sideways and cock her head. Had she heard a worm’s soft rasp as it burrowed through the soil beneath her?
She listened hard.
Bryn stayed statue-still.
Phoot! A whitish poop sack plopped out onto the grass. Suddenly bored, the world’s luckiest avian flew off. Bryn, keeping to her sphinx-position, raised her head skyward, then turned it to look to me.
I had no answer, but offered a smile, and praise. “Good girl! You were gentle.” Her tail bumped once. She knew that word. I’ve used it many times to reassure her when I groom sensitive areas, and to occasionally remind her to rein in her exuberance, especially with puppies, at the dog park.
She bowed her head slightly, inviting me to scratch behind her ears. But her eyes held my gaze.
I was gentle, Boss...
My eyes glistened as I knelt there in the clover.