My Optimistic Border Collies

The morning ritual for my three Border Collies starts with them greeting each day as a new adventure, an opportunity to explore every inch of the yard as if it somehow miraculously changed overnight. They run out of the kennel, clearly in hope that I have changed something in their world during the night. Every morning I watch Levi and Mickey, the two youngest Border Collies, as they sniff and search and then appear a bit disappointed and dumbfounded. Maybe a few more acorns fell from the towering oak tree that looms near the kennel or the wild rabbits may have left some compact, little balls of poop under the leaves. After realizing that there are no changes Mickey then pounces on his indestructible eight inch ball while Levi chases after him with a tug toy or pine cone in his mouth. But old River’s ritual is exact, punctual and dependable entertainment. He starts each day by pushing past me out of the kennel to hopefully fulfill his lifelong dream, that is, to chase and catch squirrels. These critters are more numerous than the fuzzy grey squirrels that ran along my fence line in Oregon. In northern Florida there are more of them and their nests are situated high up in the nook of the two trees situated near the kennel, and the forest on other side of the property line. Poor arthritic River, who any other time can’t see an obedience Utility signal across the ring, who limps alongside me when I say “heel”, tears across the acre to the back corner to terrorize the squirrels. Occasionally River gets lucky and one squirrel skitters swiftly across the sand and pine needle covered yard with its tail up and zips up the nearest tree, then uses the branch highway to disappear into the woods. This optimistic game River plays never looses its appeal for him. Each morning he attacks the fence line growling with a tough James Cagney sneer, “Why you dirty rat!”

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