If you read this blog, you know that Callie and I have a daily soccer match — at her invitation. It’s a ritual we’ve followed since Callie was eight weeks old. So for over five years, we’ve been doing our daily soccer game. I kick the ball in the air, and Callie “bonks” it off her nose.
You also know that we have our little ups and downs. Some days, Callie really gets into the game, and other days, she just stares blankly as the ball whistles over her head. I’m never quite sure what to expect.
You also know that I think dogs are really smart — much smarter than even our scientists give them credit for. They read our body language better than we read theirs — most of the time.
You also know that I have all kinds of little tricks for getting Callie into the game. Sometimes it takes us a while to get started, so I have to encourage her and try to persuade her to start the game. She’s always enthusiastic when we run outside, but sometimes it takes a few dozen kicks on my part before Callie gets going.
Well, last night, at soccer time, it was raining fairly hard. My first reaction was to skip soccer for the day. But Callie kept begging me to play. Finally, I gave in and opened the door to the back yard. But I said to Callie, “Look, it’s raining pretty hard; the yard is getting muddy; so we need to get started right away and just play for about five minutes.”
Imagine my surprise when Callie followed my instructions to a tee. She “bonked” the first kick and worked her golden retriever butt off for five minutes. Then we did our ceremonial “high five” and got inside out of the rain.
Unbelievable. What was she responding to? Was it what I said (really, out loud)? Did she pick up on my body language somehow? Whatever it was, it was the first time she’s ever jumped right into the game and then stayed with it for five minutes without interruption.
We were both a little wet when we finished, but it was worth it.