Putting the Brakes On

When our Australian Shepherd pup arrived in April, a friend suggested that, given the supposed origin of her breed, we name her Dingo. We embraced the name as the comical and endearing contradiction it was at the time; our nearly-helpless six-week-old puppy was usually carried like a babe in arms, tumbling off of her own wobbly legs when set down.

Now, at six months of age, we realize that Dingo is quite aptly named, as her demeanor can, in fact, bear a striking resemblance to what might be expected from a wild dog. When she is bored and under-exercised, her teetering now is precariously on the verge of mass destruction

Although we can’t really be certain how she feels, the humans in our family think that Dingo has the world by the tail. When not dashing around the house or outside with my 12 and nine year old kids, our pup enjoys the freedom to frolic in a large fenced yard complete with all sorts of awesome doggie-diversions.  Blowing leaves, insects, squirrels, neighbours and passersby all provide her with countless hours of entertainment as she dashes after each, regardless of her chances of catching any.

We had been devoted to keeping our puppy busy and well exercised, until the day we had been dreading arrived – Dingo’s appointment to be spayed. We weren’t worried about the surgery…it was the recovery period we feared.  Suddenly, we not only had to switch gears, but we had to slam the high-speed puppy express into park.

The vet told us to keep her inactive and on a short leash, orders that Dingo indignantly resisted….and refused to follow.

I considered how we would keep this burgeoning ball of energy busy enough with only limited physical activity. Ridiculously, my mind wandered to the ways my kids relax when they are not well:  TV, books, board games.  Not at all likely for a dog, although we have come to fancy her something of a puppy prodigy.  I was feeling desperate as I thought about depictions on black velvet of dogs sitting around a table playing cards.

During her recovery, Dingo seemed confused. If the world is her oyster, as we’re pretty sure she thinks it is, what has happened to the pearl?  Her family used to be so much fun, but now, nobody will play.  Whenever one of us would get up from a chair or couch she would jump up expectantly, certain that FINALLY, this ridiculous canine quarantine, this horrible house arrest was over. She would go get a ball, tug toy or leash, begging for something, anything other than one of the many chew toys we would apologetically offer her instead.

Dingo began running rapid, impossibly tight circles with no apparent goal, other than to run rapid impossibly tight circles. We would watch in awe as, her contorted form and four lanky legs melded into a seemingly seamless furry flurry.

On more than one occasion, she would leap, presumably aiming for, but clearing the couch, bounce off the wall and land on the floor with a thud. This was the maneuver that most often had me rushing to check her incision, while mentally mapping out my route to the emergency vet.  She would simply tear away, looking for yet another forbidden way to amuse herself.

Dingo’s road to recovery has brought her back to the home she knows and, hopefully loves. We have resumed regular walks and play time and the shaved area on her abdomen is the only physical reminder of our 7-10 days of inactivity.  Though, I have noticed a bit of a suspicious, if not wild look in her eye…