Friday, October 4, 2013

Duck chaser


The rain cleared and the sun peeked out a bit, daring a little hop-scotch on the tops of the morning dew. We followed its lead and winded our way down from the confines of the safari tent into the village of Avène, home to healing waters of fine thermal baths as well one small épicerie where we could buy a much-needed baguette.


As I did the shopping, Remi walked the dogs in a gorgeous park crossed by a river so clear, you could read by its light. Orange leaves fluttered flamboyantly amidst their greener counterparts, such a happy sign for someone that loves autumn as I do.


The light, freed from cloud's clutches, ran like the river.


Remi called out with a wave in my direction, half-buried from view as the riverbank descended, dipping down after a swift slip of waterfall. 


As I caught up with him, he sighed with mock-exasperation. "Kipling leapt in and tried to go after some ducks!" And yet neither of us could feign surprise. For despite our best efforts to teach him city manners, Kip, who we adopted seven months ago, has retained his wild character and it expands in the country, puffs up right to the tip of his tail pointing up over his head. Ben, on the other hand...our sweet Ben. He had waited for me and was looking, expectantly... "Ok, go on Ben, go!" With a delicate splash he dove in, did a turn or two for kicks but mainly let the cool water run through his fur. 


After an appropriate amount of bathing time, we whistled and walked on quietly, listening to the burble of little symphonies...


...until we came to the ducks again. 

Now, it isn't always easy when you bring a new dog into the household, especially one where the puppers spend as much time with their owners as ours do. We have had Ben since he was a wee thing and at times, I could swear he believes that he is half human. As my friend Sonny says, "Ben has soul." And he does. Not to mention he loves everyone. Thank goodness, for a lesser dog would have struggled with the arrival of a bossy barker like Kipling, no matter how much we have bent over backwards to give him as much love (if not more!) as he has always had. 

Both dogs get along (thankfully) but pretty early on into the game I saw Ben figure out that he needed to have one area where he was clearly the boss, where it was his thing. And that thing was swimming. He had the light bulb moment one day at the beach as he watched Kipling's fear of the waves. So, as we had been walking, Ben's little pupper mind had been turning. When we came across the ducks a second time, he knew that his moment had come. There was no way was he going to let that young upstart Kipling be the only one! He stopped, tensed up, looked back at us a little nervously and then dove in. He paddled, paddled right towards the ducks...


...and then paddled, paddled quickly back as soon as the quacking had become too ferocious!


My Ben. I knew, with all of my heart, that he was incapable of hurting them. I think he was just going out to say, "Hi." 


He looked a tad sheepish as he pulled himself out of the river and shook himself dry. That silly Golden grin. We encouraged him though, saying, "Yay Ben! Bravo! You showed those ducks who was boss!"


He trotted on down the trail proud as could be, sure of his place in the world and in our hearts...


We left the ducks in peace and continued on, our little family intact and theirs too...


Have a wonderful weekend!



51 comments:

Maryanne The Garden said...

A "Golden" and water , always a good pair.

Gina said...

While in the Italian Alps a schoolteacher, her charges and her dog were stopped by a small pond with ducks. Her little dog went in after the ducks, never able to catch up with them. We had to rescue him before he drowned, his fur getting heavier and heavier. We asked the Farmer for a heavy rope of which my husband made a lasso. He brought the dog out. From then on, and after many years my husband is still called the "Lasso Mensch".
Your photographs are stunning. And I love hearing and seeing stories of Ben and Kipling. ox, Gina

Loree said...

That was a wonderful read and it made me smile so much. We had a Lab when I was growing up and she would jump right into any water she could find: puddle or sea; summer or winter. She just loved the water. I think Retrievers have a thing for water. And you just have to love their silly grins.

Richard Ewen said...

We have a 2 year old Golden (Lola) and a 6 year old Black Lab (Jeter) and like your pair they are fun to watch and mentor ( as they do to us ) as they adjust to each other and us and then blossom along their differences. But they are inseparable! Like music and art, dogs are very fulfilling and necessary to a rich life.

Trudye said...

Beautiful prose,pics and pups! Brought a smile to my face and a slight mist to the eyes. Bless Ben's heart,gentle soul that he is!

Laoch of Chicago said...

All dogs should get to swim with ducks.

robin said...

This would make a great children's book - pics and prose! It is adorable, and I know Ben personally, so I can say that you definitely nailed his personality! Looks like a sweet afternoon and it's a sweet story - yay, Ben, and yay, Sister, for endlessly charming us!

Unknown said...

You know how much I love this story and the photographs, Heather. Dogs and swimmable water...my (and their) idea of heaven!! Add some swimming wildlife, and tant mieux! The photograph of Ben swimming toward the ducks is priceless. Henry had a similar encounter late this summer when four frolicking otters played past us as we swam in Wallowa Lake. Henry and I swam behind them for about a mile, keeping just enough distance so that we did not disturb them.

Your photographs of the river are so beautiful and so enticing...the play of light on the water makes me viscerally want to jump right in! And believe me, if I were there, I would! It's so hard to transition from swimming in open water to doing laps in pool water each autumn! I will keep your photographs, and your words, close as I dream of next summer's waters!!

The best to all four of you, Leslie in Oregon

Glamour Drops said...

Now if the ducks had written the story, it would have gone along the lines of "these pesky golden land creatures who think they can swim jumped in to show off to the tall land creatures"...they probably got the last laugh of all!

Very cute story, and what a magical spot. Thermal waters? Beautiful. How warm is it?

La Contessa said...

FABULOUS POST!JUST FABULOUS!!!!!!!!!!!
So, good of him to wait for you.

silkannthreades said...

Awww...puppers...too wonderful. Would you join them for a swim if it were summer time?

Sara Louise said...

This post has me smiling from ear to ear! Ben is darling! x

Khammany @ Sweet Inspired Home said...

So sweet! This post warmed my heart. I have two cats but if I were to ever get a dog it would be a Golden!

Suze said...

I love the image of the riverbank descending. That is just so pure, it felt like a gift to look at this morning, H., thank you.

Also, I have to say, I really like Ben's personality. :)

simpleimages2 said...

A jaunt in the country where a river sings and the trees and plants are abundantly green and shy in changing their colors.

Labs like to chase birds (or ducks) or other moving creatures which include man.
Maybe, like you say, a form of greeting, in a manner the other creatures think is too brusque.

That river-wide not too-tall waterfall still excites and creates mini-white water currents.

Mumbai said...

My German shepherd dog was always chasing deer and hare. Can you imagine what I got through at these moments. He chased them km's and I lost my authority ...he was in his element. Otherwise he was well trained but for these action he was completely freaked out. Anyway they are animals and it is their inherent drive .
Am I wrong? I never could be angry with these cute dogs.

Judith Ross said...

Love: "The light, freed from cloud's clutches, ran like the river." And Ben too. xo

George Snyder said...

Sometimes I think everything there is to learn about the world we can learn from dogs. How they manage their place in the scheme of things, interact with each other and the rest of creation, how they show each other and us who's boss, who's good, what's worth doing, what's worth paying attention to. Thank you for sharing Ben and Kip with the rest of us, XXXX G

Jeanne Henriques said...

I LOVE Ben...I LOVE Kipling...I LOVED joining you on your walk and only wish Tika and I could have joined you. Being a springer spaniel she would have loved water play with your two boys. I think of you nearly every day Heather becuase I have been listening to some great jazz tunes. I have to go back and check the list you gave me in case Celine McLorin Salvant is on it, do you know her work? I am just loving this...http://cecilemclorinsalvant.com I thought you might too!

Many thanks for your Tahilla Farm comments...how much fun would it be to have us meet there with our dogs!
Thinking of you all in Arles... xx

Heather Robinson said...

So true! The phrase should be changed from "like a duck to water" to "like a Golden to water"!!

Heather Robinson said...

Yay for the Lasso Mensch!!!! Wow, I love that story Gina! I bet all of the schoolchildren cheered!! They must have thought he was a superhero. :)
And thank you for the compliment--it was sooo preeetty there.

Heather Robinson said...

My Mom's last Golden, Emma was like that too--a slime puddle, an icy lake, anything! Luckily, Ben shows more restraint. :)

Heather Robinson said...

Beautifully put, Richard. And didn't I get to see a Christmas photo with Jeter at some point?
There were quite a few years where I didn't have dogs in my life and I missed them so much. They give to us everyday.

Heather Robinson said...

He is the real deal, Trudye, I promise you that.

Heather Robinson said...

And not try to turn them into "magret du canard" like Kipling does! Sigh.

Heather Robinson said...

Thanks Sister! He is laying at my feet as I type. :) Now, we need to get you back here so you can meet The Rascal!

Heather Robinson said...

Oh Leslie, the story of you and Henry, swimming quietly behind the otters (and who doesn't love otters?) is just so beautiful--I can really picture it and it says much of the complicity shared between you. Just wonderful. Thank you for sharing that...

Heather Robinson said...

We haven't gone to the actual baths yet--they are set in another park and it all looks very peaceful. This particular spring seemed pretty chilly but the air was warm. There is actually a seperate micro-climate that keeps Avene at really good temps--Remi kept track this Summer and they were always 7°C cooler than here in Arles.

And the ducks definitely got the last laugh!

Heather Robinson said...

Isn't he a good boy? I am so proud of my Ben. Now the other one... ... ...

Heather Robinson said...

The waters were quite shallow but I definitely would have joined them for a wade! :)

Heather Robinson said...

He is what brought us together!!!

Heather Robinson said...

Khammany, they are the BEST dogs. And most of them are so low key that having cats as well isn't a problem.

Heather Robinson said...

Yes, you two would be friends in a heartbeat. I can just imagine him following you around with that slow tail wag of his. He would bring you his favorite toy--Remy from Ratatouille!

And the water was so clear we could have drank it.

Heather Robinson said...

There is a photo that I didn't publish that you would have liked, Edgar, showing those mini-white water currents! So beautiful, all of it--and your response!!!

Heather Robinson said...

Oh, you are more patient than I am, Mumbai!! I absolutely understand what you mean as we have had the same thing happen with Kipling. Once he goes into overdrive and wants to go after prey, he can take off! It scares me to pieces. He is slowly getting better but on the first trip to the safari tent, he took off into the underbrush after an animal at dusk and it was a miracle that he found his way back.

Heather Robinson said...

Thanks Judith, I like that sentence too. :) Ben and Karina would get along just fine.

Heather Robinson said...

I couldn't agree with you more, George. Having dogs is a humbling and enlightening experience--not to mention a delightful one to boot.

Heather Robinson said...

Oooh yay! I am out the door but can't wait to take a listen when I get back!!! A new jazz discovery doesn't come along every day. And it brought me a lot of happiness to know that I have been in your thoughts, Jeanne, on the other side of the world...jazz just seems so perfect for Mango House. I can't remember if I put Jean Sablon on the list? I think so but that kind of French touch seems right too. ;)

As for Tika, well, she would have Ben wrapped under her paw in no time!! Kipling might have to stay at home alas. I have never seen a male dog that was unfriendly with both male and female dogs (young and old too) but Kipling is. Happily not with Ben though.
Thinking of you in Saigon and of TF!! So amazing. I keep walking through your fields in my mind and I can't tell you how many times I have thought back to the Haywards bench under the big trees...
Gros Bisous,
H

Wyn Vogel said...

Hi Heather - we have been gardening and cleaning up for our summer - so haven't been on the blogs for a few days - but this was fantastic to see this morning - Kipling would love it here the fun of frolicking would be too much for him to resist and Ben would be chased by the Jesus birds - who flick their white tails constantly as though warning - don't go here!! Glad he can't catch them though!! Cheers - love you roses as well!!

Jeanne Henriques said...

I am hoping to do the same...so simple and poetic. xx

breadispain.me said...

Another delightful post - dogs are the most darling creatures. :)

Mumbai said...

Once, and this was the worst experience, he came back after hours!!! completely exhausted (as I was) but....when he looked at me all anger was gone and both were happy to be together again. He must have run km's and that he find the long way back was the unerring instinct of animals.

Pat said...

I just read this in the New York Times...http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/opinion/sunday/dogs-are-people-too.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 Dogs Are People Too. about testing brain waves with MRIs...I think Ben is a perfect example!

Heather Robinson said...

Ben would be freaked out by the birds for sure! He is a scaredy cat. Nice to have you back!

Heather Robinson said...

Methinks you need one.

Heather Robinson said...

Waaaaa! Thank you SO much for this, Pat! I scan the NY Times online but still miss things and this sounds amazing! I can't wait to read it!!!! Muchos Gracias! :)

puppyfur said...

I've come to this late but we have exactly the same situation here with 11 year old Finney and not quite two year old Rémy. You r story is familiar and wonderful. They are beautiful boys, those two of yours.

Marsha Splenderosa said...

As a major dog-lover this post has just captured my heart !
And, I would love Kipling just as much, he has great spirit, or should I say a macho attitude?
Such a great post, Heather. I loved every word and all the photos too.
xx's

Heather Robinson said...

You have a pupper named Remy??? Oh, that gave me a big smile. If you ever want to send photos of them...

Heather Robinson said...

I bet you would know just what to do to tame Kipling's wild heart!! He would be under your spell in no time!
I knew that you would love this...
xo

Clare M said...

How absolutely gorgeous. I love their very different personalities.

Clare x