Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Lake and Ichi, In Tahoe

At 5:30pm on Friday, I abandoned my laptop. I put Ichi into her harness and we piled into Mongo, my name for Eric's larger vehicle. It was a short drive, just a few miles to the right – wait, no – left. Due to construction, the drive was a bit longer than we'd expected. Not bad, per se, but longer still. We pulled off of 89 and onto the shoulder, next to a sign covered by a tarp that read "Closed for the Season." But it's April, late April, and Tahoe is between Seasons now. There are no tourists, only construction and locals. Locals that bring dogs and cameras down to the lake for some fun in the last bits of sun.

I had brought Ichi's favorite Tahoe toy, a funny Z-shaped rubbery thing that is bright orange and throws like a sideways frisbee. It's a bit too tall for her and she has to lift her head high to walk whilst carrying it. That doesn't seem to bother her, though. It's still her favorite toy that I bought for her when we had an address in Tahoe.

Mel tried to teach her that it's name was "sex toy." She succeeded on some level. Ichi knows that her beloved object has "toy" in the name. Preceding it with "your", "the", or any other words seems to work just as well as "sex". Really it's okay if my dog thinks her toy is named something a bit inappropriate – it's not like she'll be saying it's name.


I brought the toy to the "Closed for the Season" trip to the water's rocky edge and with it in hand, let Ichi off her leash. Keeping my poor dog on a leash is a bit silly whenever that toy is in my possession  If that toy is near the presence of her and I at the same time, she will not leave my side for fear that I will not throw it, or worse, I will throw it and she will not know where it went. She will carry it up a mountain in 4 feet of snow in the hopes that I will pause and throw it for her. I have also now learned that she will walk and then swim into Lake Tahoe for that toy. Again, and again, and again.

She will swim out into the lake, going in circles until she can barely keep her head above the water, desperate to try and find it once more after I've thrown it too far. She will swim and then wade and then crawl onto shore to rest for a moment. Here she will stare off into the lake, look back at me with imploring eyes and then walk back into the blue in the direction the stone I throw lands. In circles she will paddle, heading towards the splashes from rocks Howard, Eric and I try to aim around the floating Z. And when she finds it? Her head will dive into the water, jaws open and eyes wide, snatching it up before it can get away again. 

She will swim back to shore and then wade and then crawl onto the rocks, barreling and sliding over boulders as big as her like they will move out of her way. When she finally gets to dry land, she will walk a bit away from me, drop her prize, shake herself off, pause, then turn and bring her triumph over to my feet. Even as she pants, snot running down her chin, right leg shivering from the arthritis and thighs shivering from the wind, she will wait for me to throw it again.

So that is what happened when I shut my laptop on Friday, and that is what I learned about my dog's love for that damn toy. Eventually, the only way to get her to stop trying to get her toy into the water was to put her back on her leash and place a large rock on the other end of it. She still played with the toy, though, trying to bury it in the mud and pine needles.

That is, until I let her off again..

Because, you see, I had had the toy in my hand.

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